Belgium wants to evacuate wounded Gaza children this weekend

9th January 2009, Comments 0 comments

Belgium is acting alone as it "cannot wait any longer" for its European Union partners.

BRUSSELS - Belgium plans to send aircraft to the Middle East this weekend to help evacuate children from Gaza injured in Israel's war on Hamas, the foreign ministry said Thursday.

A spokesman said that Belgium was acting alone as it "cannot wait any longer" for its European Union partners to coordinate and take part in the mission.

On Friday, A C130 military transport plane will fly to the Egyptian village of El-Arish, some 60 kilometres (35 miles) from the Gaza border, with around a dozen personnel aboard, including medical and consular workers and translators.

They will prepare with local authorities the first evacuation of children.

"If all goes well, a medically equipped aircraft could leave Brussels as soon as Saturday and return with two seriously wounded children and five who were not wounded so badly," ministry spokesman Bart Ouvry said.

Ouvry said: "It would be best to cooperate with other countries, but we think that we cannot wait any longer to go there."

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.


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