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EU's Ashton in Gaza on World Refugee Day

June 20, 2013 7:32 P.M. (Updated: June 21, 2013 10:05 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) – The European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton visited the Gaza Strip Thursday and took a tour in a UN-affiliated school in Gaza City marking World Refugee Day.

Ashton maintained in a news conference that support to the population of Gaza should not stop and that donor countries should continue to allocate financial aid to the Palestinian refugees in the coastal enclave through UNRWA.

The EU official said she wanted to see Gaza crossings operating, the economy improving and children expecting a promising future. Ashton expressed gratitude to UNRWA for its major role in helping Gaza residents. She pledged the EU would continue to be a major supporter to UNRWA “not only financially, but politically as well.”

“I came back to Gaza because Gaza is important. However, you are concerned more about what will happen after I leave. You want your conditions to improve which means economic support to the people, and education and hope of a better future for children. Most importantly, we need to exert pressure on the EU’s 27 countries to work out a solution.”

Palestinian lawmaker Jamal al-Khudari, who heads a popular committee against the Gaza siege, urged Ashton to take practical moves and to exert pressure on Israel to end the siege. He highlighted that the siege on Gaza entered a seventh year despite many international reports and recommendations asking to end it because it is illegal and immoral.

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