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Bulgaria's European Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva visits the Middle East

Author: The Sofia Echo staff Date: Mon, May 16 2011 2600 Views
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Bulgaria's Kristalina Georgieva, Commissioner for International Co-operation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, and Valerie Amos, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Co-ordinator, are in Palestine and Israel on a four-day visit, Bulgarian National Television (BNT) reported.

Dozens were injured and 12 people were killed during riots on May 15, which are staged annually during Nakba, or "disaster day".

Thousands of young Palestinians and political activists congregated in various areas to commemorate the Nakba, the day of the birth of the state of Israel. Such rallies are considered annual practice but, in 2011, they appeared particularly intense. Dozens of clashes occurred between police, the Israeli army and protesters, resulting in many casualties.

At the scene, Georgieva and Amos will gather first-hand information on current humanitarian needs. They have also called on Israel to stop demolishing Palestinian homes and evicting residents in the disputed areas, BNT said.

The mission is intended to underline the need for improved humanitarian access to people who have suffered from years of conflict across the Gaza Strip, and the importance of respecting international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict, the report said.

"Israel has the legitimate right to live in peace and harmony," Georgieva said, cited by  BNT. "But this does not absolve Israel from its obligation to follow international rules," she said.

More than 60 000 Palestinians in eastern Jerusalem are feared to face forcible eviction in the near future.

During their stay, Georgieva and Amos will meet displaced Palestinian families in East Jerusalem, and observe the progress of current humanitarian projects in Gaza, said. They are to meet key humanitarian partners of the European Commission, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, UNICEF and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

"I am particularly moved by the plight of ordinary Palestinian families whom I met in the West Bank’s area C and in East Jerusalem. Notably women and children live under the constant threat of harassment, eviction and disruption of their lives. There is an issue of protection. Any action that leads to forced displacement must stop," Georgieva said, cited by the Enpi website.

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