Proposals for finding ways to help Gaza civilians amid Israeli war include opening a maritime corridor and setting up floating hospitals.
Delegations from more than 80 countries and organisations are gathering in France for a conference on providing aid to civilians amid Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip, with proposals for a humanitarian maritime corridor and floating field hospitals.
Since the October 7 Hamas attack, Israel has retaliated by imposing a “complete siege” that has restricted the entry of food, water and fuel into the Gaza Strip, and a relentless bombing campaign that has killed more than 10,000 people, half of whom are children.
Several European countries, the United States and regional powers like Jordan, Egypt and the Gulf countries as well as officials from the United Nations and non-governmental organisations are expected to attend the Paris gathering on Thursday, the French presidency said.
Also attending is Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who has called for a “humanitarian pause” in the war, wants the conference to address the besieged Palestinian enclave’s growing needs, including food, water, health supplies, electricity and fuel.
The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), the UN’s top aid official and the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are expected to provide details about urgent needs in the Gaza Strip.
More than 1.5 million people – or about 70 percent of Gaza’s population – have fled their homes, and an estimated $1.2bn is needed to respond to the crisis in the Palestinian territory.
Cyprus President Nikos Christodoulides will present his plan for a humanitarian sea corridor to Gaza, which he has said aims for a “sustained, secure high-volume flow of humanitarian assistance to Gaza in the immediate, medium and long term”.
French officials said they are also considering evacuating injured people onto hospital ships in the Mediterranean Sea, off the Gaza coast.
Paris sent a helicopter carrier off the Cyprus coast and is preparing another with medical capacities on board for that purpose.
Thursday’s discussions will also include financial support and other ways to help Gaza’s civilians.
France is expected to announce some additional funding.
Paris has already provided an additional 20 million euros ($21.4m) in humanitarian aid for Gaza through the UN and other partners since October 7 and sent 54 tonnes of aid supplies via three flights to Egypt.
On Tuesday, the German government said it will provide 20 million euros in new funding, in addition to releasing 71 million euros ($75.9m) already earmarked for the UNRWA following a review it launched after the Hamas attack.
European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are also attending the conference.
The 27-nation bloc is the world’s top aid supplier to the Palestinians. It has sent almost 78 million euros ($83.4m) this year.
Israeli authorities will not participate in Thursday’s conference, the Elysee said.