Near East conflict: Switzerland intensifies its aid (last modification, the 05.01.2009)

Bern, Press release, 05.01.2009

The FDFA calls for an immediate end to the acts of violence which are intensifying the suffering of the civil population. The Humanitarian Aid of the Confederation is ready to reinforce its support to partner organisations operating in the Gaza Strip, notably UNRWA and the ICRC.

The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) is following developments in the Gaza Strip with concern. Given the precarious human rights situation, in particular problems of medical treatment for the injured and food provision, it is ready to make assistance available immediately to partners on the ground. It also calls on all parties to facilitate the appropriate treatment of the injured, including their evacuation if this is necessary. 

The main obstacle that has to be overcome in this conflict, which has led to hundreds of deaths and injuries in the space of a few days, is access to civilian victims. At the moment, only a few international actors are able to operate in the Gaza Strip. These include UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East) and the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross).   

The FDFA considers recent events to be serious violations of humanitarian law, which prohibits in particular acts of violence against civilian populations. It deplores moreover the fact that a building used by one of its partners in Gaza was damaged during a bombing.

For several years Switzerland has provided humanitarian aid to the civilian population of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank incl. East Jerusalem. This aid totalled CHF 12 million in 2008. The Humanitarian Aid of the Confederation will immediately release further financial support, added to the 4 millions CHF already earmarked for UNRWA and the ICRC.

Further information:

Further information SDC Gaza - Westbank

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Federal Department of Foreign Affairs