Brussels, 27 February 2009
Commission to co-sponsor Palestinian Donors Conference and announces €436 million ($554 million) to the Palestinians for 2009
Benita Ferrero-Waldner, European Commissioner for External Relations and Neighbourhood Policy, will pledge on 2 March in Sharm El Sheikh (Egypt) €436 million ($554 million) to the Palestinian people for 2009 at the “Conference in Support of the Palestinian Economy for the Reconstruction of Gaza”. The Conference, co-chaired by Egypt and Norway, will also be attended by the other members of the Quartet for the Middle East Peace Process: United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, US Secretary of State Clinton, Russia Foreign Minister Lavrov, EU HRSG Solana and Czech Foreign Minister Schwarzenberg; and representatives of all international donors to the Palestinians. The Commission’s pledge will be dedicated to humanitarian aid and early recovery of the Gaza Strip. It will also continue supporting the Palestinian Authority in the implementation of the overall Palestinian Reform and Development Plan as well as UNRWA’s programmes for the benefit of the Palestine Refugees. Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Fayyad will also offer to all donors the PEGASE mechanism to channel their assistance to Gaza.
Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner said: "Our priority today is to adequately respond to the disastrous humanitarian situation in Gaza. By offering a substantial aid package we confirm our generosity and commitment towards the Palestinians. In Gaza, we will dedicate part of our assistance to early recovery after the conflict at the beginning of the year, notably for urgently needed removal of rubble and unexploded ordinance and for providing assistance for traumatised children. It will also support a “cash for work” scheme, as well as small repairs of those shelters that were damaged during the military attack." And she added: "But the crucial problem at the moment is not related to funding but to access. In the aftermath of the crisis, a clear priority remains the immediate and unconditional reopening of all Gaza crossings on a regular and predictable basis, for the flow of humanitarian and commercial goods as well as people."
The Commission has supported the preparation of the Palestinian Authority’s Gaza Early Recovery and Reconstruction Plan, in cooperation with the UN and the World Bank. On the basis of this and of its own assessment, the Commission will consider specific areas and projects for funding.
The Commission's pledge for 2009 in Sharm el Sheikh will be comparable to its important pledge at the Paris Donors’ Conference in December 2007 - €440 million - that was made available in full in 2008 and topped up with additional resources. Part of this pledge has already been made available since January 2009.
PEGASE is the financial mechanism to provide assistance to the Palestinians in close cooperation with the Palestinian Authority. This mechanism:
Benita Ferrero-Waldner said: "PEGASE is quick, effective, efficient and in compliance with the highest international standards of monitoring and control. In Sharm el Sheikh I will reiterate our offer to all donors to use PEGASE to channel their assistance to the people in Gaza."
In Gaza, PEGASE is currently used for the provision of fuel for production of electricity, for the payment of social allowances to 24,000 vulnerable families, as well as the salaries of over 28,000 civil servants and pensioners. Since its establishment in January 2008, PEGASE has allowed the delivery of over €550 million (€421 million Community funds; €130 million from other donors) assistance to the Palestinians.