Belgium pledges additional 2m euros in humanitarian aid for Gaza
Belgium will provide an additional 2 million euros in humanitarian aid to Gaza, Development Cooperation minister Caroline Gennez announced on Thursday.
The country's Foreign minister, Hadja Lahbib, pledged the amount at Thursday's Gaza humanitarian summit in Paris. The additional humanitarian aid comes on top of the 2 million euros already pledged by Belgium and is earmarked for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).
The Belgian aid will be used to provide UNRWA's emergency medical posts in Gaza with life-saving supplies such as medicines, water, food and hygiene kits.
"A humanitarian ceasefire is essential so that aid workers can reach those in need"
Belgium is also pushing for the opening of additional border crossings from Israel to allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza. Currently, only a limited amount of aid reaches Gaza through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. "That is why we are asking Israel to permanently open the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings for humanitarian aid," said Gennez.
Belgium is also supporting the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in its efforts to gain access to Israeli hostages and to ensure that they also receive vital medical assistance.
"This was a specific request from the relatives of the Israeli hostages I met last month," said Gennez. Hamas is currently holding more than 240 people, including elderly and sick people who need medication.
"Belgium, through the ICRC, will now try to get this medicine to them. But here too, a humanitarian ceasefire is essential so that aid workers can reach those in need," said Gennez.
The Belgian government is currently also considering the possibility of recognising Palestine as an independent state
Gennez also reiterated her call for additional measures to stop the violence. "If Israel continues to bomb innocent civilians and does not heed repeated calls for a ceasefire, or at least a pause, then it is up to the international community to step up the pressure with countermeasures."
Along with like-minded European countries, the Belgian government is currently also considering the possibility of recognising Palestine as an independent state and imposing a visa ban on violent and extremist Israeli settlers, Gennez said.
People unpacking aid parcels that entered the Gaza Strip from Egypt via the Rafah border crossing on 2 November 2023 © MOHAMMED ABED / AFP