Belgium plans EU mission to evacuate wounded Gaza children

Belgium plans to start moving wounded children evacuated from the Gaza Strip to hospitals as soon as Saturday.

Belgium plans EU mission to evacuate wounded Gaza children
Belgium plans to start moving wounded children evacuated from the Gaza Strip to hospitals as soon as Saturday and is urging European Union countries to join its mission, the foreign ministry said on Thursday.

A Belgian reconnaissance team is scheduled to arrive in Egypt on Friday and is considering transporting injured children evacuated from Gaza by local aid groups to hospitals in Egypt, Lebanon or Jordan. Some may also be flown to Belgium.

Brussels will urge other European Union countries to join the mission at a meeting of EU ambassadors on Friday.

"At this stage this is a Belgian operation but with the aim of gaining progressive support from other countries," said Bart Ouvry, a spokesman for Belgium's foreign ministry, adding Belgium had informed Israeli authorities of its plans.

Medical facilities in Gaza have been overwhelmed since Israel began a military offensive in the Palestinian territory on Dec. 27 against Gaza.

Around 765 Palestinians have been killed and at least 3,000 wounded in Gaza where a U.N. agency stopped its work on Thursday over Israel hostile fires.

A spokesman for EU Development and Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Louis Michel said the European Commission backed the Belgian evacuation plan.

"The European Commission welcomes this Belgian initiative, and is ready to facilitate or support in any way it can an eventual initiative at the European level," said spokesman John Clancy.

The Belgian C-130 aircraft carrying the reconnaissance team and supplies is set to land in the Egyptian city of El-Arish, some 60 kilometres from the Gaza border on Friday.

The team, comprised of medics, consular officials and translators, will coordinate with Egyptian authorities, hospitals and humanitarian groups, as well as those in Gaza.


Agencies
Last Mod: 09 Ocak 2009, 13:45
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