EU must resume aid to Palestinian Authority

Published: 13 September 2006

International agency Oxfam today called upon European Union foreign ministers meeting in Brussels tomorrow to immediately resume normal international aid to the Palestinian Authority in order to avert a looming humanitarian crisis.

The Temporary International Mechanism developed by the European Union to provide direct assistance to the Palestinian people, following the suspension of aid to the Palestinian Authority, has failed to meet many basic needs, Oxfam says.

Over 90,000 government workers are excluded from the program, affecting some 500,000 people. Oxfam estimates these workers support over half a million Palestinians. Ministries and local authorities are exhausted of funds, leaving over 1500 schools without budgets, rubbish overflowing in the streets, and hospitals are struggling to cope.

To provide assistance through the mechanism, the European Commission has spent 12 million euros developing a parallel funding structure through the Office of the President when Palestinian Authority ministries already exist to deliver assistance.

Adam Leach, Oxfam International spokesperson said: "Palestinians institutions must be able to carry out their vital work.”

"Oxfam estimates that half a million Palestinians remain without any income, dependent on the salaries of tens of thousands of dedicated civil servants and local officials who have not been paid for over six months. Limited direct payments from the European Commission have failed to address this growing crisis. Many households in Gaza can no longer afford to empty cesspits, which are now overflowing with waste.”

“A new Palestinian government provides an opportunity to move the peace process forward but it will not be effective without international aid. To continue withholding support will only exacerbate the suffering and create tensions which will weaken EU attempts to support a just and lasting peace."

On 2 September, health workers joined teachers in a national strike in protest at the shortages they face. Oxfam Solidarité and Oxfam Novib partner organizations, health charities, Palestinian Medical Relief Society and the Union of Health Workers Committees have struggled to cope with an influx of new patients.

Contact Information

For more information, please contact:
Louis Belanger, Oxfam media officer in Brussels on +32 473 562 260