Press release | Date: 20/05/2021
‘I am deeply concerned about the high number of casualties in Gaza, the suffering of the civilian population and the widespread destruction, especially of infrastructure that is vital to ensure a rapid and effective medical response. Humanitarian actors are working to provide access to clean water, health services and food, as well as personal protective equipment for limiting the spread of the coronavirus. This is why Norway is now increasing its humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people by NOK 30 million,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.
The funds will be channelled through the UN and Norwegian humanitarian organisations. This increase in humanitarian aid comes in addition to NOK 71 million in humanitarian support provided to the Palestinians so far this year. Norway is also considering further contributions to Gaza through existing agreements with Norwegian humanitarian organisations.
‘In particular, we will help to strengthen the protection of children and provide health care, shelter, food, water and sanitation. Norway urges the parties to take steps to ensure that humanitarian actors have safe and unimpeded access to people in need of help,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.
There was already a high level of humanitarian need before the conflict flared up. Of Gaza’s total population of approximately two million people, 53 % were living in poverty and more than 1.3 million were experiencing food shortages. The situation has been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The people of Gaza are now suffering from an acute shortage of food, fuel and medicines, and there is an urgent need for physical and psychological health care.
‘The military attacks on targets in Gaza are having a severe impact on civilians. We condemn all attacks on civilians. All parties to conflict have an obligation to protect civilians from the effects of hostilities,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.
Norway is continuing its efforts in the UN Security Council to put pressure on the parties to stop the violence immediately and agree to a ceasefire.
Norway is a major donor to Palestine and provided a total of NOK 881 million in support in 2020, which included humanitarian aid, long-term development aid and Norway’s contribution to UNRWA (the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East).