European Union Heads of Mission and representatives visited Gaza and met with Palestinian Authority officials, visited the two main crossings in Gaza, Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) and Rafah. They visited EU-funded projects, met with Palestinian Authority officials, representatives of civil society, human rights defenders, political analysts, women and youth activists, representatives of the private sector and international organisations (UNRWA and UN Agencies).
The group of more than 20 European diplomats started the visit by joining the children from Gaza to celebrate the 75th anniversary of UNICEF. Children and diplomats painted murals on the walls of the Gaza Desalination Plant, one of the key EU projects in Gaza.
The diplomats then visited two crossings of vital importance to Gazans, Rafah and Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom). At Karm Abu Salem, the group was briefed about the entry and exit requirements and procedures for goods, including for humanitarian aid. At the Rafah Crossing, the European Union Border Assistance Mission to Rafah (EUBAM Rafah) briefed diplomats about its mandate. In this context, the group was also informed about existing procedures regarding the movement of people between Gaza and Egypt.
The diplomats also visited EU funded projects including the Um al Nasser bedouin village in Beit Lahia and its women centre and met with community representatives, and a strawberry farm supported by FAO, where they were briefed by farmers about the agricultural sector in Gaza.
Diplomats visited Tal el Hawa Girls UNRWA school as part of the longstanding support of the European Union and its Member States towards Palestine refugees.
The group concluded the visit by meeting three Ministers of the Palestinian Authority and holding a press conference.
“Gaza remains a priority for the EU and its Member States. The humanitarian situation is still of great concern and affects all aspects of life for the population in Gaza. Gaza continues to face fundamental political, economic and social challenges that have been left unaddressed for far too long.
The continued closure of the Gaza Strip and the prevailing political and geographical Palestinian division make an effective recovery and sustainable development of Gaza impossible. “My message therefore today is on the need to ease restrictions to improve the humanitarian and economic situation in Gaza, and the message for all Palestinians is to call for unity, reconciliation and democratic legitimacy. The European Union stands ready to fully support this critical process“, said the European Union Representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff.