France to host international conference for Gaza next week – diplomats

France to host international conference for Gaza next week – diplomats
# 04 November 2023 14:12 (UTC +04:00)

France will host an international humanitarian conference for the civilian population in Gaza on Nov. 9 as it looks to coordinate aid for the besieged Palestinian enclave, four diplomatic sources said, APA reports citing Reuters.

While Paris has offered its support for Israel over a deadly Oct. 7 attack by Hamas Islamists, there has been growing concern over civilian casualties that have soared under Israel's retaliatory bombardment that has seen thousands killed, wounded and displaced in Gaza.

President Emmanuel Macron confirmed to reporters in Brittany that the conference would take place.

The conference will be at head of state, government and foreign minister level. Key regional stakeholders such as Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf Arab countries will be invited as well as Western, European powers and G20 members, excluding Russia.

International institutions, including the United Nations and Arab League, and non-governmental organisations operating in Gaza will also be present, the diplomats said.

The Palestinian Authority would be present, but Israel was not set to be invited, they said, adding that Paris would inform Israel of the initiative and the work carried out at the conference.

The conference will aim to mobilise financial resources with several sectors identified for emergency support based on U.N. assessments of the immediate needs and the opening of strictly humanitarian crossing points into Gaza.

Re-establishing the supply of water, fuel and electricity would be under discussion, while ensuring accountability processes to ensure aid was not diverted to Hamas.

"The conference will also enable all participants to take stock of the support already being channelled to civilians in Gaza, assess requirements and announce fresh commitments, whether financial or in-kind," according to a diplomatic note seen by Reuters.

"The conference will furthermore serve as a forum for reiterating the obligation to respect international humanitarian law," it said.

France is sending two helicopter carriers off the coast of Gaza as it works with Israeli and Egyptian authorities to find a way to provide medical assistance to people affected by the bombings in the besieged area.

The diplomats said there would be a discussion to set up a maritime corridor to use sea lanes to ship humanitarian aid into Gaza, but also to see how ships could be used to help the wounded evacuated from Gaza.

"It is not so clear what results this will bring, but it is the right thing to do for Europe," said one of the diplomats.