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Venezuela will take Gaza orphans, president declares

August 15, 2014 at 11:32 am

Following a meeting with Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, President Nicolas Maduro announced plans to give orphaned Palestinian children a home in Venezuela.

Venezuela has announced that it will take in Palestinian children orphaned by Israel’s military offensive in Gaza.

The announcement came as President Nicolas Maduro met with Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki on Thursday.

The exact number of children has not been revealed but local media has spoken of “several hundreds” of young Palestinians arriving in Venezuela.

On Wednesday, al-Maliki visited Aragua state, set to be home to the country’s first shelter for orphaned Palestinians, where he met Governor Tareck El Aissami, who is of Syrian-Lebanese descent.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua met representatives of the United Nations refugee children’s agencies in the Egyptian capital of Cairo earlier this month. He said Venezuela had “formally notified” the Palestinian authorities that the country had “everything ready to welcome these children.”

There are conflicting reports as to whether the children would be allowed to stay in Venezuela and be put up for adoption by locals or whether Venezuela would provide them with shelter until they can return safely to Gaza.

Maduro said previously that a children’s home bearing the name of his predecessor Hugo Chavez would be built for Gaza orphans.

“We are going to bring them to Venezuela to raise them with love and, with the agreement of the Palestinian state, we will find some of these children Venezuelan mothers and fathers,” the president said.

Following the meeting with Maduro, al-Maliki praised Venezuela for its support for Gaza, where more than 1,900 Palestinians have been killed by Israel’s bombardment.

Venezuela shipped 12 tonnes aid to Palestine via Egypt on Tuesday, according to the Telesur news website. A far larger consignment of 300 tons would now be sent, it was reported.

“We truly feel this special affection… of the people of Venezuela towards Palestine,” al-Maliki was quoted as saying by Venezuela’s Noticias24 news service.

Maduro accused Israel of wanting to “exterminate the Palestinian people” and called on the world to “boldly increase solidarity with the Palestinian people.”

He said Venezuela would host a summit to plan the reconstruction of Gaza, El Universal news site reported.

Venezuela broke off ties with Israel in 2009, after the last major conflict in Gaza.