Saturday, April 11, 2009
Concern at border delays of Irish humanitarian aid to Gaza
Galway Palestine Children’s Appeal has expressed concern about further border delays which have prevented four containers of Irish humanitarian aid from being delivered to the people of Gaza. Irish embassy officials in Egypt have been trying to track the containers, following their detention in the Egyptian port of Alexandria along with aid consignments sent from Britain and France. Irish ambassador to Egypt Gerard Corr has informed the Galway group this week that the goods are to be brought into Gaza in “instalments, subject to Israeli approval”. The four Irish containers were filled by the Galway group, and by the Cork Palestine Children’s Authority after a public appeal early in the year. They were shipped in February to Egypt, arriving in Alexandria early last month. When they were eventually released by the Egyptian authorities, they were sent back again to Alexandria from the border crossing at El Arish due to the absence of one document. Treasa Ní Cheannabháin of the Galway Palestine Children’s Appeal has been told that the containers have now been moved back to El Arish, and are to be “de-vanned” and inspected by the Israelis before delivery. Ms Ní Cheannabháin said that the containers held vital medical supplies, food, toys and clothes and it was vital that the people of Gaza received these items. “We had new clothes and household goods given to us by Galway businesses, and we know that the people are really suffering and need these supplies.” John Ging, Irish-born head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, highlighted continued inadequate access by residents of Gaza to humanitarian supplies such as food, medicine, blankets and clothes. About half of the population of 1.5 million people in Gaza are children. Ms Ní Cheannabháin has said that she and her Egyptian-born husband, Dr Saber El-Safty, intend to travel later this month to Gaza, and have copies of the container manifests which they intend to check against delivery.
This article appears in the print edition of the Irish Times