From the office of the UK's Green MEPs
10 September 2008
The UK's Green MEPs today urged the UK authorities to intervene to ensure free passage for three international peace campaigners stuck in Gaza.The three campaigners, all of whom live in the UK, are part of the Free Gaza movement which last month sailed two boats into the Palestinian land to deliver desperately needed medical supplies to Al Awda Hospital, along with hearing aids to a deaf children's project, in a symbolic gesture to break the Israeli siege of Gaza.
The voyage marked the first international cargo to reach Gaza directly since the Israeli-led embargo on its civilians began. However, when it came to exiting the country via the border with Egypt, the campaigners were stopped by Egyptian state security and refused passage.
Green MEPs Dr Caroline Lucas and Jean Lambert are concerned for the safety of the three remaining campaigners, including human rights activist and sister of Cherie Blair, Lauren Booth, who have been attempting to leave Gaza for over a week now.
Having been turned away from the queue at the Rafah border on the official day for foreign passport holders to pass, the group has already spent two days at the this border with Egypt.
The MEPs have written to Her Majesty's Consul in Cairo to request guarantees that the UK activists will be given free passage to leave Gaza via Egypt. Dr Caroline Lucas, Green MEP for the South East, said: "We know that Egypt may be subject to Israeli pressure on the movement of peoples across the border, and Israel has explicitly said it will not let the 'boat people' out of Gaza except by boat. To actively prevent three peaceful campaigners from returning to their resident countries is unacceptable.
"The difficulties faced by the activists at the Gaza border provide only a brief glimpse of the challenges faced by the Palestinian people on a daily basis, while their economy teeters on the brink as a direct result of Israel's illegal blockade. In such circumstances, the region will fail to deliver anything that even resembles security for Israelis or Palestinians."Jean Lambert, the Green MEP for London, added: "I fully supported the effort by Free Gaza to provide relief to the many Palestinians suffering the effects of Israeli occupation. The occupation of Palestinian Territories is causing untold suffering across the region, but nowhere more so than in Gaza.
"The Egyptian authorities have no valid reason to prevent this group from leaving Gaza. We call on the UK government to intervene and ensure that Egyptian border control allows the campaigners to return to the UK." ENDS
Notes to Editors
For information on Dr Lucas MEP, contact Melissa Freeman on 0207 407 9935 orcarolinepress (@) greenmeps.org.uk
For information on Jean Lambert MEP, contact Georgina Bloomfield on 0207 4076280 or media (@) jeanlambertmep.org.uk