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EU official: Open Gaza crossings immediately

May 18, 2011 10:07 A.M. (Updated: May 20, 2011 4:11 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- EU Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva called for the "immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of crossings for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons," following her trip to the coastal enclave Tuesday.

It was a message she also conveyed to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Tel Aviv, when she met with the official after her Gaza visit.

Her trip, a statement from her office of International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response said, "highlighted the dramatic human and far-reaching effects of the blockade of the Gaza Strip."

Israel's four-year siege on Gaza has seen the slow closure of import terminals and imposition of strict control on the goods permitted to enter the area. The ban includes a prohibition on the import of a long list of goods, like construction material, industrial items for manufacturing, electronics, medical equipment and many fertilizers. Without access to the materials, factories remain closed, homes remain in rubble, the medical sector remains inadequate and farming undeveloped.

The "blockade exacerbates the predicament of a large number of Palestinians, and hinders the flow of humanitarian aid, persons and commercial goods to and from the Gaza Strip," Georgieva's statement noted.

The commissioner said the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access for Gaza should be implemented; a comprehensive agreement mandating international forces on the Rafah border area between Egypt and Gaza, as well as a regular system of imports from Israel into the coastal enclave.

"The blockade maintains Gaza people in a state of humanitarian vulnerability and dependency. By impeding the movement of people and the import and export of goods, there is hardly no prospect for development. For example, it is very difficult to bring construction materials into Gaza, where they are urgently needed to build houses and schools as well as health and sanitary basic facilities," she said.
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