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European Commission - Press release

EU provides new assistance for Palestinians affected by water restrictions in the occupied territory

Brussels, 13 July 2011 - The European Commission has allocated €4 million to address water scarcity which is affecting people in the occupied Palestinian territory. Rainfall in the area is 59% down from the rainy season average and the drought is testing the resilience of many Palestinian communities with water and fodder shortages.

"The rainfall deficit by itself puts at risk the livelihoods of many Palestinians, for instance those who make a living by herding," said Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response.

"But the drought is particularly painful when it hits people whose access to water is already very limited by the occupation in the West Bank and by the Gaza Strip blockade. While many wells and other water sources are drying out, the occupation prevents Palestinian herders and their livestock from accessing some water points which have not been as badly affected. The problem is particularly acute for the Bedouin communities in Area C which I visited in May," the Commissioner explained.

The EU funding will provide water for around 50,000 people and their livestock in the West Bank. Special attention will be paid to those most affected by the combination of drought and Israeli-imposed restrictions – in southern Hebron, the Northern Jordan valley and other parts of Area C (which contains the Israeli settlements, buffer zones and includes the Judean Desert and much of the Jordan Valley). The Commission's humanitarian aid will provide food assistance to 4,000 herders and their families -around 25,000 people. Herders' livelihoods will be protected by the provision of fodder for their animals.

Background

The control over water sources is one of the issues at stake in the conflict between Israeli and Palestinians in the occupied territory. Israeli settlements are usually built around the main water sources which restrict substantially the access of Palestinians to water.

Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva visited the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in May 2011 with UN Under Secretary General Valerie Amos. The Commissioner strongly reiterated the legitimate right of the Israeli people to live in peace and security, but reminded that this right does not relieve Israel from its obligation to respect international humanitarian law. Commissioner Georgieva also confirmed that the EU will continue its unwavering humanitarian support to the most vulnerable Palestinians.

Between 2000 and the beginning of 2011 the European Commission provided €600 million in humanitarian aid for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as for Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. In 2010, the Commission's assistance supported the nutrition of 700,000 people, provided healthcare for 355,000 vulnerable Palestinians, made clean water available to 340,000 people in Gaza and the West Bank and contributed to the protection and care of children and adult Palestinian refugees.

For more information

Commissioner Georgieva's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/georgieva/index_en.htm

The European Commission's humanitarian aid:

http://ec.europa.eu/echo/index_en.htm

Contacts :

David Sharrock (+32 2 296 89 09)

Irina Novakova (+32 2 295 75 17)


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