A HUMANITARIAN ACCESS CELL
32. DFID told us that they were considering supporting
a UN humanitarian access cell in Gaza which would monitor the
crossings, anticipate needs and ensure access for humanitarian
"We are looking to fund up to £800,000
to provide seven plus one UN officials to be on call 24 hours
a day, to anticipate when people will need to use the crossings
and to make sure that liaison with Israelis is effective, proactive
and done in advance so that people can get through. We were particularly
concerned about the benefits this could have for emergency medical
cases where in the past people have been stuck at places like
Erez unable to get across and unable to receive treatment"
The Director of the Middle East and North Africa
Directorate at the FCO, John Jenkins, elaborated on the importance
of ensuring a UN response:
"To have a practical impact on the ground there
needs to be a collective international response, in particular
through the UN, which with UNRWA has the most significant international
presence in Gaza, and the EU which has the most significant level
of donor funding available, together with other willing donors
including regional partners like Egypt which has a major role
to play in the southern Rafah crossing."
We have been informed that DFID and the UN will fund
the access cell although budget discussions are still continuing.
It is intended to be operational by October 2008. DFID has written
to say that,
"The UN is confident that this will improve
its capacity to address access problems efficiently, to improve
the flow of humanitarian goods into and within the OPTs, and to
reduce the time and resources spent on these issues by humanitarian
agencies and NGOs. The creation of the team does not
prejudice efforts to reopen the crossings into Gaza and improve
access throughout the OPTs."
We support the proposal to develop
a UN humanitarian access cell for Gaza as a matter of urgency.
We wish to be kept informed of its start date and its full remit.
We agree that it should not prejudice efforts to reopen fully
the crossings into Gaza.