DfID questions January 22nd 2014 : Column 280

Nia Griffith (Llanelli) (Lab): What assessment she has made of the extent to which the amount of food, medical supplies and fuel that is entering Gaza meets the needs of the population.

Minister of State Alan Duncan: The collapse in the supply of fuel and medical supplies entering Gaza in recent months and the rising price of food are exacerbating the already precarious humanitarian situation caused by restrictions on the movement of goods and people and the devastation of the winter storms.

Nia Griffith: The Minister will know that there are severe drug shortages in Gaza, leading to problems with the provision of proper emergency care. What is his Department doing to ensure that the Palestinians get better, more timely access to the health care that they need?

Mr Duncan: She is absolutely right. I was in the Palestinian territories last week and I spoke directly to a number of people in Gaza. The shortage of drugs is a serious issue, and that has been the case since about 2007. DFID is supporting the UN access co-ordination unit to work with the World Health Organisation, Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the agencies to help to facilitate the transfer of medical equipment and supplies, and patient referrals, in and out of Gaza.

Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield) (Lab): Someone who did much to draw attention to the plight of the people living in Gaza, and who also represented Labour Friends of Palestine in the Gaza marathon two years ago and in the Bethlehem marathon, was Del Singh. He was killed last weekend in the attack on a restaurant in Kabul. Will the Minister join me in remembering Del Singh, and does he agree that Del will best be remembered by all of us redoubling our efforts to bring an end to the blockade of Gaza?

Mr Duncan: I wholly endorse what the Member says. We offer our condolences and full sympathy following Del Singh’s death. It would be a tribute to him if we were all to raise the issue of the humanitarian challenge now facing Gaza. It is no exaggeration to say that, come the autumn, Gaza could be without food, without power and without clean water. One UN report predicts that it could become an unliveable place, meaning that it risks becoming unfit for human habitation.

Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): I welcome the Minister’s forthcoming talks with the Egyptian Government. Will he impress on them that, while we support the security crackdown in Sinai, it is important that they should make suitable provision for humanitarian assistance to cross the Egypt-Gaza border?

Mr Duncan: I understand what the Member is saying, but at the moment those borders are closed. Under international law and other obligations, primary responsibility rests with the occupying power, and it is to that end that we will continue to work closely with Israel in an attempt to alleviate the humanitarian pressure that Gaza currently faces.

FCO written question:

Mr Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment the Government has made of the effect of Israeli blockades of raw materials on the Gaza economy; and what representations the Government has made to the government of Israel regarding that country’s blockade of Gaza. [181892]

Hugh Robertson: We consistently call for relaxation of the Israeli movement and access restrictions that have been estimated as costing the Palestinian economy up to 85% of its Gross Domestic Product every year. As part of this, we are urging Israel to ease its restrictions on Gaza on the import of commercial construction materials.

MPs who are members of CFI or LFI will be provided with possible one-line interventions to make during speeches on Gaza.  Here are some suggested rebuttals:




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