Belgium urges EU to help wounded Gaza children

8th January 2009, Comments 0 comments

Minister wants the EU's Czech presidency to organise a "quick consultation" among nations.

BRUSSELS - Belgium called Wednesday on its European Union partners to help provide sorely-needed medical treatment to children hurt in Israel's war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

"Hamas and Israel must permit the opening and free movement at crossing points in the Gaza Strip," the office of Development Minister Charles Michel said in a statement.

Michel "wants Belgium and its European partners to stand ready for such an opening so that the repatriation of children (to Europe) can take place more quickly," it said.

He urged the EU's Czech presidency to organise a "quick consultation" among nations, and added that Belgium would be willing to provide military aircraft to help fly children out if they were needed.

The impoverished Gaza Strip is one of the most overcrowded corners of the Earth, and children make up 56 percent of the 1.5 million population.

By Tuesday, the number of children killed since Israel's Operation Cast Lead was launched on December 27 stood at around 160, according to Gaza emergency services. The United Nations said that more than 900 had been wounded.

"The lack of medicines, medical personnel, water and electricity as well as the burden on hospitals means that they cannot be treated in an appropriate way," Michel said.


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