Singapore giving another US$100,000 to help provide clean water and sanitation in Gaza

Palestinian children carrying bottles of water walk past buildings which were destroyed by Israeli military strikes during the summer's fierce offensive, on October 1, 2014, in the Shejaiya neighborhood of Gaza City. . -- PHOTO: AFP
Palestinian children carrying bottles of water walk past buildings which were destroyed by Israeli military strikes during the summer's fierce offensive, on October 1, 2014, in the Shejaiya neighborhood of Gaza City. . -- PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE has announced a contribution of US$100,000 towards UNICEF's Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Cluster programme to help in the provision of clean water and sanitation in Gaza.

Senior Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and Home Affairs) Masagos Zulkifli said this on Sunday at the Cairo International Conference on Palestine and Reconstructing Gaza.

This latest contribution is in addition to Singapore's contribution of US$100,000 to humanitarian relief efforts in Gaza that was made through the Singapore Red Cross in July this year.

In his speech at the one-day conference, he also reiterated Singapore's commitment to support the Palestinian National Authority's capacity-building efforts through an enhanced technical assistance package.

The BBC reported that international donors pledged a total of US$5.4 billion for the Palestinians at the Cairo conference, exceeding the US$4 billion that the Palestinian Authority sought for reconstruction and other efforts in the territory. The report added that at least 100,000 Gazans lost their homes in a 50-day conflict between Israel and the Hamas group earlier this year, and that much of the territory's infrastructure was damaged.

Speaking at the conference, Mr Masagos said the Gaza conflict had been "devastating and heart-breaking".

"Singapore was deeply saddened by the high number of civilian casualties. We urge all parties to work seriously towards an agreement over Gaza that will best serve the long-term interests of both the Palestinians and the Israelis," he said.

"Without a feasible long-term solution, which will entail compromises from all sides, our efforts today will come to naught. We also call for the urgent resumption of negotiations towards realising an eventual two-state solution with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security.

"Singapore believes that this is the only way to achieve a lasting and durable peace between the Palestinian and Israeli people."

Describing the humanitarian situation in Gaza as being of great concern, he said Singapore supported all international efforts to alleviate the suffering of the people there.

He told the meeting that in response to the humanitarian crisis, the government had previously given US$100,000 to the Singapore Red Cross to provide for immediate relief supplies such as emergency food packages, health care items, and water and sanitation devices.

Singaporeans also contributed to fund-raising efforts and as of Sept 30, a total of about S$1.7 million had been raised for humanitarian relief efforts in Gaza.

He then announced the government's latest contribution of US$100,000 to UNICEF for the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Cluster to provide clean water and sanitation in Gaza.

"In the long-term, the reconstruction of Gaza must be accompanied by the strengthening of institutions, and stepping-up of capacity-building efforts," Mr Masagos said.

He also informed the meeting that Singapore has an enhanced technical assistance package for the Palestinian National Authority that was announced last year and which is worth S$5million over five years.

This comprises study visits to Singapore, priority places in Singapore Cooperation Programme training courses, and postgraduate scholarships.

Since 1996, over 140 Palestinian officials have attended courses in Singapore, receiving training in areas such as education, disaster management and information and communications technology.

Singapore has also hosted study visits by the Palestinian Ministry of Education, and the Palestinian Anti-Corruption Commission.

"We hope more Palestinians will take up our offer, and that they might be encouraged seeing first-hand that it is indeed possible for a country without natural resources to prosper," he said.

"Looking back, Singapore's prosperity today was built on the stability and security it enjoyed after independence. Singapore is happy to share our development experiences and expertise with the Palestinian people, and to help build capacity."