UK to match Gaza DEC appeal donations up to £2m

Children walk away from a makeshift shelter in Gaza. Adults are sitting under the shelter The UK government said it had now committed £17m to help the people of Gaza

The British government will match the first £2m of public donations to an emergency appeal for people affected by the conflict in Gaza.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) said the Israel-Hamas conflict had left hundreds of thousands "desperate" for food, water, shelter and medical care.

Minister Justine Greening echoed that and said government matching meant DEC donations would "go twice as far".

A three-day ceasefire in Gaza is in its final day, with indirect talks ongoing.

The talks, about a long-term truce, are taking place in Cairo

Israeli officials say they are willing to extend the ceasefire before it expires on Friday morning but Hamas, which controls Gaza, says there is no agreement and there is a big gap between the sides' positions.

'Caught in crisis'

Ms Greening, the UK's International Development Secretary, said: "Four weeks of violence have left people in Gaza in desperate need of food, shelter and medical supplies.

"The British people have shown immense generosity in situations like this and the UK government will help that generosity go twice as far.

"For people wanting to help civilians in Gaza caught up in this crisis, giving now means every pound they donate will buy twice as many food parcels, provide twice as many blankets and help twice as many people to get through this crisis."

The UK government said the £2m commitment would take its total support for the people of Gaza since the start of the crisis to £17 million.

A digger works on the site of a ruined building as a group of people look on There has been widespread damage in Gaza after almost a month of fighting

Saleh Saeed, chief executive of the DEC, an umbrella organisation which brings together 13 UK aid charities to deal with international crises, said this was a "vital moment" for Gaza.

"Hundreds of thousands of people have left their homes, and whilst many are now returning the situation they are returning to is very grave," he said.

"They have limited access to even the most basic human needs including food and water.

"The healthcare system is on the verge of collapse."

He said work by major aid agencies was being scaled up "as the ceasefire continues to hold", but DEC members "urgently need money".

A man sitting on a sofa on top of a pile of rubble Justine Greening said there was a "desperate need" for essentials including shelter in Gaza

Four weeks of fierce fighting between Israeli forces and militants in Gaza claimed more than 1,900 lives.

Palestinian officials say at least 1,875 people have been killed since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on 8 July.

Israel's government says 64 soldiers have been killed, along with two Israeli civilians and a Thai national.

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