Ban voices support for Greek initiative on sending humanitarian aid to Gaza

4 July 2011

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has voiced support for a Greek Government initiative to use vessels from that country to deliver humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip through regular existing channels, in consultation with the United Nations.

Mr. Ban spoke by telephone yesterday with Greek Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis, who briefed him on the details of the Greek initiative.

The Secretary-General believes the initiative “could help to reduce tensions in the region and ensure much-needed aid is delivered to those who need it in Gaza,” according to information released by his spokesperson.

Mr. Ban said the UN would work closely with Greece, Israel and Palestinian authorities on the matter, and that he hoped the organizers of a flotilla of ships – currently docked in Greece and aiming to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza and deliver aid to Palestinians living there – would agree to the Greek initiative.

On Saturday, the Middle East Quartet, the diplomatic grouping of the UN, the European Union, Russia and the United States, issued a statement in which they urged all those wanting to deliver goods to Gazans to do so through established channels.

In the statement, Quartet members voiced regret at the deaths and injuries resulting from a similar flotilla last year, urged restraint and called on all governments to use their influence to discourage additional flotillas, “which risk the safety of their participants and carry the potential for escalation.”

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