Westminster and Holyrood pledge more aid to Gaza

Posted on 30/07/2014 by

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Greening: ‘the situation in Gaza is dire’

Police Scotland calls for demonstrators to protest ‘within the law’ 

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Both the UK and the Scottish governments are to increase their aid to Gaza, it hsa been announced. The UK has announced £3 million in new funding so the World Food Programme can get emergency food to more than 300,000 people in Gaza, while Holyrood will provide a further £500,000 to aid stricken civilians there.

And as tension rises Police Scotland today warned protestors that while peaceful demonstrations are acceptable, illegal actions will not be tolerated. 

News of the increased aid comes after reports of further bloodshed in Gaza – the UN says that Israel has attacked a UN-run school housing refugees in Gaza despite warnings that civilians were there, killing fifteen people and injuring many more.

The UK is stepping up its humanitarian response to the Gaza crisis with an additional £3 million for the World Food Programme’s emergency appeal to help deal with food shortages, Prime Minister David Cameron announced today.

This £3 million boost will provide emergency food for more than 300,000 people for one month, and the latest commitment from the UK brings to £10 million the amount released to help Gaza since the latest crisis began.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said:”After more than three weeks of fighting, the death toll in Gaza is rising and more than 200,000 people, many of them children, have been displaced from their homes. We urgently need to stop the bloodshed: we continue to call for an unconditional and immediate humanitarian ceasefire to prevent any more needless suffering.

“The situation in Gaza is dire. The UK is helping to meet immediate needs, including with this latest contribution of £3 million which will get food to hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people.

“All sides must adhere to International Humanitarian Law, all feasible precautions must be taken to avoid harm to civilians, and all sides must allow aid agencies unimpeded access to get to those in desperate need.”

Displacement of families from their homes is a huge problem that is affecting more than 200,000 people at the latest count. This has a significant impact on all aspects of day-to-day life as people rely on UN shelters and aid agencies for all their needs.

Access to food is an increasing issue of concern in Gaza. The latest reports from the UN show that food shortages are being reported in Gaza, with sharp increases in the prices of certain products.

To address the humanitarian needs in Gaza the UK government is pushing for better humanitarian access so that aid agencies can get supplies and personnel into and out of Gaza and a sustainable political solution, which must include the gradual lifting of the economic restrictions.

The UK is the third biggest donor to UNRWA’s General Fund, contributing £107 million between 2011 and 2015. UNRWA is a crucial service provider to the 70 per cent of the Gazan population who are Palestinian refugees. Our support is enabling UNRWA to continue providing basic health services during this conflict through 19 of its 21 clinics.

gaza runningThe Scottish Government has also pledged more support for the beleaguered people of Gaza – it is providing half a million pounds to help people affected by the crisis, External Affairs Minister Humza Yousaf announced today.

The funding, which will be routed through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Gaza Flash Appeal, will help support the immediate needs of people in Gaza.

Mr Yousaf also reiterated his backing for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire and called on the UK Government to take more urgent action with international partners to bring a cessation in violence. He also highlighted that the Scottish Government is continuing to work with relevant governments and local agencies to help some of those injured in the current conflict who might benefit most from treatment in Scotland.

Mr Yousaf said: “The escalating violence in Gaza has already caused far too many lives to be lost and people to be injured. The UN has called for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire and it is crucial that this is delivered.

“Rocket attacks being fired by militants in Gaza is wrong, and must stop, however, the Israeli response has been heavily disproportionate as demonstrated by the unacceptable and mounting loss of civilian life.

“There is also increasing evidence that the humanitarian situation is continuing to deteriorate and that is why the Scottish Government is providing £500,000 funding to help the United Nations provide the water, food shelter and medical assistance people in Gaza need.

“The Prime Minister has described Gaza as “an open air prison”. He and the international community must do more in order to stop any further loss of innocent lives. There must be an immediate lifting of the blockade and siege of Gaza which is tantamount to collective punishment.

“The Scottish Government has already made clear to the UK Government that we stand ready to help where we can and we have offered medical treatment in the Scottish NHS for those who would benefit from that, as well as offering to house refugees from Gaza in Scotland.

“We will continue to work with others and support efforts to help people affected, however an immediate end to the violence and lifting of the blockade are needed to resolve the situation and we will continue to press the UK Government to do more to try to achieve this.”

gaza graphicSenior police officers understand the anger caused by the conflict, but they have asked those members of the public who choose to demonstrate to keep their protests within the law.

Police Scotland’s Chief Superintendent Mark Williams, who is Edinburgh’s Divisional Commander, said today: “We are aware that ongoing issues with the Gaza conflict have understandably raised concerns within our community. There have been a number of incidents reported to Police Scotland involving people using legal and illegal means to show their frustration at the humanitarian crisis.

“We are aware that people may wish to demonstrate and we will facilitate peaceful demonstrations, balancing the needs and rights of protesters with those impacted by the event in Edinburgh and beyond. Our communities will rightly expect that we will not tolerate criminal activity and deal appropriately with anyone engaged in such acts.

“Police Scotland are committed to keeping all communities safe and will continue to work with partners to uphold the law, maintain public order and protect life and property, maintaining confidence and the high reputation of policing in Scotland.

“Police Scotland are proud of the strong links we have with our communities, our local officers will be available to communicate with businesses and community groups in order to pass on any relevant information and help alleviate any concerns.”

gaza5Yesterday marked the start of Eid,but instead of the usual day of celebration Gaza’s children woke up to an Eid marked by death and destruction, with no apparent end in sight.

Twenty one days into this conflict, children in Gaza are still paying the highest price. One in four Palestinians killed in the conflict are children, and a child is killed on average almost every hour. Instead of playing in the streets as they normally do when celebrating the end of Ramadan, thousands of children in Gaza are mourning their parents at the graveyards, hundreds are buried with their families. Instead of experiencing the joy of Eid, these children are now facing uncertainty and despair.

At least 194,000 children in Gaza now need specialised psychological support, many having witnessed family deaths, injuries and displacement.

More than 100,000 children have been displaced with their families, the majority of them in schools. A total of 130 schools have been damaged and 22 health facilities have been damaged or destroyed. For Gaza’s estimated 45,000 pregnant women of whom 5,000 have been displaced, access to maternity care is extremely restricted. Local organisations report premature births doubling because of the women’s trauma.

Thousands of explosive remnants of war are left in civilian areas in Gaza, posing a further major threat to children and their families. Save the Children and local partners are taking every opportunity to reach as many of the affected families as possible, but with no clear commitment for a ceasefire, distributing aid on the ground puts our staff at serious risk.

“Children in Gaza and Israel are paying the price of political failure,” said Save the Children’s country director David Hassell. “The international community has so far failed these children, through its inability to use all its diplomatic influence to bring about an immediate end to the bloodshed. Ending the violence, as called for by the UN Security Council, is the first and immediate priority. A sustainable solution, ensuring the wellbeing of both Palestinians and Israelis, will require agreement by the parties to long-term measures that address the legitimate grievances of Palestinians, including an end to the blockade.

“Children never start wars, yet they are the ones that are killed, maimed, traumatised and left homeless, terrified and permanently scarred.”

“Save the children will not stop until innocent children are no longer under fire and the root causes of this conflict are addressed. If the international community does not take action now, the violence against children in Gaza will haunt our generation forever.”

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