AU calls for urgent reconstructing of Gaza

Monday, February 2, 2009

Addis Ababa - The African Union has called on the international community to provide urgent and appropriate assistance to enable the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.

The 53-member AU has also urged the United Nations to investigate human rights violations during Israel's war against Hamas militants in Gaza which it described as "massive, indiscriminate and disproportionate."

In a statement issued on Friday, the AU welcomed the ceasefire following the adoption of the resolution and urged them to observe it in "order to create conditions that were most conductive to a lasting solution to the conflict."

"The AU renews its support for and solidarity with the Palestine people in their struggle to regain their fundamental rights, including the right to existence as an independent state with Jerusalem."

It also urged Israel to put an end to its aggression against the Palestine people, lift the embargo it had imposed on them and open without delay all their border crossings to allow for the free movement of goods and persons and most importantly humanitarian aid.

The operation ended about 11 days ago but a deep humanitarian crisis persists.

The UN Relief and Works Agency expanded food aid in recent days. About 900 000 Gaza residents are now receiving rations of flour, oil and sugar.

Meanwhile, the second Africa-Arab Summit aimed at boosting cooperation between Africa and the Arab world is set to take place before the end of this year in a country yet to be specified, the AU's Commissioner for Political Affairs, Julia Dolly Joiner announced on Friday.

"The African Union and the League of Arab States are carrying out consultations for the 2nd Africa-Arab Summit to take place on a date yet to be determined," Ms Joiner said at a news conference after a meeting of the 12th ordinary session of the AU Executive Board.

"It is time that the second edition of that summit takes place after the one held in 1977 in Cairo," she added, underscoring that the secretariats of the two institutions were commissioned to prepare and monitor the organisation of that summit.

The Commissioner for Political Affairs also urged for the diversification of trade between Africa and the Arab world.