Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Questions (143)

Joe O'Brien


143. Deputy Joe O'Brien asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his plans to ensure that Ireland uses its international influence, especially among the EU Foreign Affairs Council, to end a blockade of necessary medical supplies from reaching Gaza in view of the news that there are over 400 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Gaza; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22803/20]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Ireland has long worked to keep international attention on the situation in Gaza. The particular risk posed by COVID-19 in the Gaza Strip was addressed in Ireland’s statement at the UN Security Council Open Debate on the Situation in the Middle East on 23 April.

During my most recent visit to Gaza in December 2019, I saw for myself the impact of the blockade. Ireland contributes humanitarian assistance to alleviate the worst of the suffering in the Gaza Strip, including through our support for UNRWA, totalling €7 million this year, which is a key provider of public services, health and education in Gaza. Recently, my Department allocated additional funding to support the medical response to the pandemic in Gaza, including €125,000 allocated to Oxfam, and €1.2 million in support of social protection measures.

I welcome the agreement announced on 31 August to de-escalate the situation in and around Gaza. This should now be fully respected by all parties, including the reopening of the Kerem Shalom border crossing, allowing fuel deliveries to Gaza’s electricity plant, and the restoration of Gaza’s fishing zone.

The roots of the problem in Gaza are political and cannot be solved by funding alone. I have consistently called for the lifting of the blockade, so that normal life and normal economic activity can resume, and I will continue to make every effort to ensure that the situation in Gaza remains high on the international agenda, particularly as we prepare to take up our seat on the UN Security Council in January 2021.