Diplomats agree to set up common fund for Gaza corridor, urge Israel to open crossings

The Foreign Affairs Ministers of Cyprus, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Qatar and the United States as well as the European Commission, in a joint statement, have pledged to undertake consultations on the possibility of establishing a common fund to support the maritime corridor between Cyprus and Gaza, and coordinate in-kind and financial contributions to its sustainment. 

They also underscored the need for Israel to open additional crossings so more aid can reach Gaza, including the North, and to ease overall customs restrictions to facilitate an increased flow of life-saving humanitarian assistance.

The joint statement they said that on 13 March, Cyprus' Minister of Foreign Affairs Constantinos Kombos hosted US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken; European Union Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič; UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs David Cameron; UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan; Qatar Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs HE Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulaziz bin Saleh al-Khulaifi, and UN Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza Sigrid Kaag for a virtual ministerial to advance planning to open a maritime corridor to deliver much-needed additional humanitarian assistance to Gaza by sea.

The Ministers, it said, "agreed that there is no meaningful substitute to land routes via Egypt and Jordan and entry points from Israel into Gaza for aid delivery at scale. The ministers also agreed that opening Ashdod port to humanitarian assistance would be a welcome and significant complement to the corridor."

Furthermore, the Ministers committed to continue their engagement and send senior officials to the Republic of Cyprus during the week of March 18 for in-depth briefings on the activation of the corridor, including U.S. military planning efforts to establish a temporary pier able to receive significant quantities of humanitarian assistance.  Senior officials will also undertake consultations on the possibility of establishing a common fund to support the maritime corridor, and coordinate in-kind and financial contributions to its sustainment, the joint statement added.

They further "reaffirmed that this maritime corridor can—and must—be part of a sustained effort to increase the flow of humanitarian aid and commercial commodities into Gaza through all possible routes—including expanded land routes and continued aerial delivery, working closely with Coordinator Sigrid Kaag — who is charged with facilitating, coordinating, monitoring, and verifying the flow of aid into Gaza under UN Security Council Resolution 2720."

Concluding, the Ministers underscored the need for Israel to open additional crossings so more aid can reach Gaza, including the North, and to ease overall customs restrictions to facilitate an increased flow of life-saving humanitarian assistance.

(Source: CNA)

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