International Women′s Delegation Granted Entry to Gaza
March 9, 2009
Novelist Alice Walker, parents of Rachel Corrie and 58 others, including six Canadians spend International Women′s Day in war-torn territory
Gaza City, Gaza Strip – March 8, 2009 – The crossing from Egypt into the war-torn Gaza Strip opened March 7 to allow entry by a 60-member delegation organized by the peace group CODEPINK, in recognition of International Women′s Day (March 8). The crossing at Rafah has been closed by the Egyptian government almost continuously since July 2007. However, the CODEPINK delegation was invited to the region by the Gender Initiative of the United Nations′ Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), a program dedicated to promoting the rights of girls and women in the Gaza Strip. In addition, Egyptian First Lady Suzanne Mubarak, chairman of the Egyptian Red Crescent (similar to the Red Cross) and president of the National Women′s Committee, communicated her "blessing" of the mission through the Red Crescent team that escorted the delegation through the crossing.
"Given the fact that so many organizations and individuals wanting to help the people of Gaza have been turned away from both the Egyptian and Israeli border crossings, it is amazing that we were ushered through with such ease," said Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK. "We feel extremely fortunate to be able to be with our Gazan sisters on International Women′s Day. But we also want to send a message to the governments of both Egypt and Israel that the borders must be opened to all individuals and organizations. Long-term peace and prosperity are not possible without freedom of movement."
The Red Crescent estimates that 1,000 truckloads of supplies and other goods are needed every day to meet the needs of the 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip. Yet, the UN reports that the daily average has been only 125 truckloads since the borders closed about 18 months ago.
The CODEPINK delegation, which is meeting with social-service organizations and delivering more than 1,000 gift baskets to Gazan women, includes Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist Alice Walker. Also among the participants are Craig and Cindy Corrie, parents of 23-year-old Rachel Corrie, who was struck and killed six years ago this month by an Israeli bulldozer while trying to block the demolition of a Gazan home.
"Rachel chose to come to Gaza as a volunteer just as the U.S. invasion of Iraq was beginning, because she believed that the war would worsen the plight of the Palestinian people – and that this is the most forgotten part of the Occupied Territories," said Cindy Corrie, as the group′s bus prepared to roll through the Rafah crossing. "She discovered, and shared with the world through her writing, that the people of Gaza are struggling to make a good life for their families, and are so in need and worthy of our support. The situation has only gotten worse since then, and Craig and I are devoting our lives to carrying on Rachel′s work, in partnership with organizations such as CODEPINK."
"We hope our visit makes a lasting impression that neither the Egyptian government nor the people of Gaza will soon forget," said Benjamin.
Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK co-founder, 059 706 4717 (in Gaza)
Jean Stevens, CODEPINK national media coordinator, 508-769-2138 (in U.S.)
For interviews with Canadians contact:
Kim Elliott: 011 972 (0)59 706-4075
Ehab Latoyef 011 972 (0)59 9 412 434
Sandra Ruch firstname.lastname@example.org For more information contact
Phone: 059 706 4717 (in Gaza)
CODEPINK national media coordinator
Phone: 508-769-2138 (in US)
Phone: 011 972 (0)59 706-4075
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