Lawmakers ask US Secretary of State for Gaza crisis help

Friday, January 30, 2009

Democrats in the United States House of Representatives have sent a letter to new Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, asking her to release funds to reconstruct agencies in the Gaza Strip.

The letter also said she should try to reason with Israel to allow people in Gaza in need of medical attention and emergency transportation between the Israel and Gaza border.

The letter, released to the AFP news agency, says "[w]e... urge you to express this concern directly to Israeli government officials". The letter says the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) need an estimated $350 million dollars for rebuilding of Gaza and to provide relief to residents. "Failure to address this humanitarian emergency has the potential to produce a crisis of even more unspeakable proportions," the letter added, "we therefore respectfully request that the State Department release emergency funds to UNRWA for reconstruction and humanitarian assistance".

They also urged Clinton and her team to make a list of "actions taken to date and the strategy you will pursue to address the humanitarian crisis", saying "[w]ith the ceasefire now in effect, it is critical that the United States play a leading role in alleviating the suffering of civilians in Gaza and we respectfully urge your assistance in this task".

Israel began a ceasefire on January 18 after a 23 day offensive, in an attempt to stop rocket fire into Israel by Hamas militants, but has warned that they reserve the right to resume action if the shelling of Israel did not stop.