January 12, 2009 / 6:18 PM / 11 years ago

U.N. sees Gaza aid impossible under blockade

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Donor countries and humanitarian bodies have pledged $34 million (22 million pounds) to Gaza but the aid would be meaningless unless Israel lifts it blockade, a U.N. relief official said Monday.

“The whole question of the recovery of Gaza will depend on lifting the blockade,” said Peter Ford, an official of UNRWA, the main U.N. relief agency for Palestinians.

“There is an immediate need for Israel to allow in cash but Israelis are preventing the entry of bank notes and cash and people in Gaza cannot buy anything. It is economic strangulation,” he told reporters after a donors meeting initiated by Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates.

Ambassadors and representatives from several countries attended the meeting.

“Through this initiative, we aimed to consolidate efforts to raise money to bring hope to the people of Palestine. We also underscored the need for making cash available and concrete action to stop the mayhem in Gaza,” said Anwar Gargash, UAE minister of state for foreign affairs.

“It is now the job of experts to funnel the cash,” said Gargash, declining to say exactly how much had been pledged by donors.

Reporting by Stanley Carvalho

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