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Ashton visits Gaza and calls for opening of crossings closed by Israel

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EU foreign policy Chief Catharine Ashton visited the Gaza Strip on Thursday. During a press conference, she said that she had planned to make her visit on the day of the Palestinian refugee.

"I have visited Gaza several times, I chose this visit to be on the day of the Palestinian refugee in order to highlight the humanitarian suffering here," she said to journalists at a press conference she held jointly with the UNRWA High Commissioner Philippe Grande.


Ashton affirmed that what is needed in Gaza is "work" not "speeches." She noted that a lot of senior officials have visited the Strip, but said that the significance is the results of their visits.

After visiting a summer camp carried out by UNRWA, she said: "I am pleased to be here today, but the important thing is what is going to happen after I leave Gaza; how much the economy is going to be improved; work developed; children better educated and enjoying better futures."

She said that the EU completely supports UNRWA's work and called for the complete opening of the Gaza crossings in order to afford "dignity" to the lives of residents.

On the political issues, Ashton said that the EU heavily supports the peace process and changing the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. "The EU supported work for improving the humanitarian situation with the weight of its 27 member states," she said.

Meanwhile, Grande said that he explained the difficult situation in the Gaza Strip and called for more discussions to find solutions for this issue.

Grande thanked the EU, as the largest supporter of UNRWA's programmes, and called for the issue of the Palestinian refugees who fled from Syria to be followed up. "This issue needs to not be forgotten," he said.

MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad

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