The EU Heads of Mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah visited Gaza today and met with representatives of Palestinian civil society and the private sector as well as with international organizations, according to a press release issued by Office of the European Union Representative.
The group of more than twenty European diplomats visited also the European Hospital in Rafah and the EU-funded small-scale desalination plant near Deir Al Balah.
This is the first joint visit of EU Heads of Mission to Gaza since 2016. The visit was organized in full respect of the heightened health restrictions of Covid-19 and demonstrates the EU’s support to the people of Gaza who are suffering from Gaza’s closure, intra-Palestinian division, and the severe implications of the Covid-19 pandemic, said the release.
At the European hospital in Rafah, representatives of the World Health Organization and Palestinian doctors briefed the EU diplomats about the unprecedented challenges the health sector faces as a result of the high Covid-19 infection rate in Gaza.
The diplomats then visited the EU-funded small-scale desalination plant near Deir Al Balah. Representatives of UNICEF and the Palestinian Water Authority informed about the project which will benefit around 250,000 people upon its completion. The diplomats were also briefed about the plans for the Gaza Central Desalination Plant that will provide clean water for the whole population of Gaza, once completed.
The group concluded the visit by meeting representatives of the Palestinian civil society and private sector in Gaza. They explained to the diplomats the dramatic socio-economic consequences of Covid-19, a situation that is significantly exacerbated by Israel’s closure of the Gaza strip as well as the problems caused by the intra-Palestinian division.
In a small ceremony, the human rights defender Issam Younes was awarded this year’s French-German Prize for Human Rights and Rule of Law.
European Union Representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff said: “Gaza remains a priority for the EU and its Member States. Here in Gaza we are not just facing a humanitarian crisis, here we are facing political challenges that have been left unaddressed far too long.”
“Almost two million people are living under Gaza’s closure for the last 13 years and paying the heavy price of Palestine’s internal division. Generations of young men and women are losing hope, waiting for solutions that still need to be found. With Covid-19, the harsh reality for the people of Gaza is quickly deteriorating and all duty bearers should act now and respect their obligations under international law,” he added.
“There is no time to waste. My call here today to all Palestinians is a call for unity, reconciliation, and democratic legitimacy,” he said.
The EU and its Member States continue to provide predictable and significant support for Palestinians in Gaza, in partnership with the Palestinian Authority, international organizations (notably UNRWA), and civil society.
The EU is committed to facilitating the social and economic development of the Gaza Strip and encourages efforts towards reconciliation as an indispensable element for the viability of the future independent, viable, and democratic Palestinian state.
The EU continues to call for the immediate, sustained, and unconditional opening of crossings for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods, and persons to and from the Gaza Strip, the release concluded.