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Swiss to increase humanitarian aid for Gaza

Switzerland is ready to step up humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday, while calling for the violence to end.

A ministry statement described the acts of violence as "intensifying the suffering of the civil population".

The statement added that the ministry was "following the situation in the Gaza Strip with concern".

"Given the precarious human rights situation, in particular problems of medical treatment for the injured and food provision, it is ready to make assistance available immediately to partners on the ground, " the statement said.

In this case Switzerland's main partners are the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), who are among the few international actors currently operating inside Gaza.

The ministry statement described "recent events" as "serious violations of humanitarian law, which prohibits in particular acts of violence against civilian populations". It deplored the fact that a building used by one of its partner organisations had been damaged during the bombing.

Switzerland provided a total of SFr12 million ($11.4 million) in humanitarian aid to the civilian population of the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem in 2008. The ministry statement said it was ready to release further humanitarian support, in addition to SFr4,000,000 already earmarked for UNWRA and the ICRC.


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