Egypt: EU commission president discusses Gaza humanitarian crisis

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated on Saturday that she opposed the “forced displacement of Palestinians” during a meeting in Cairo with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Von der Leyen expressed gratitude to Egypt for its crucial role in providing and facilitating humanitarian aid to vulnerable Palestinians in a message posted on X, formerly Twitter.

The two leaders discussed “the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza” and explored a “political horizon based on a two-state solution,” with Israel conducting a military campaign in the Gaza Strip following the October 7 Hamas attacks.

According to the Hamas government, at least 12,000 people, including 5,000 children, have been killed in Gaza since Israel initiated its assault on the Palestinian territory last month. The conflict was triggered by the Hamas attacks, during which fighters breached the heavily militarized border with Israel, resulting in approximately 1,200 casualties, mostly civilians, and the taking of around 240 hostages, as reported by Israeli officials.

Von der Leyen later arrived in North Sinai for the arrival of a European Union humanitarian convoy, according to a statement from the governor of the Egyptian border region. The statement mentioned that she is expected to inspect the Rafah border crossing, assess the aid situation, and visit wounded Palestinians in North Sinai.

International aid has been arriving at the international airport in El-Arish, approximately 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the Rafah crossing with Gaza. The Rafah crossing, the only entry point for aid not controlled by Israel, has been crucial for the trickle of assistance into war-ravaged Gaza.

During von der Leyen’s previous visit to Egypt in 2022, Israel and Egypt signed a deal to supply Europe with natural gas. A senior EU official highlighted Egypt’s strategic location and significant population, seeing opportunities for cooperation in energy and hydrogen in the future.

Cairo has invested billions in recent years to develop its natural gas industry, aiming to become a major exporter. In August, researcher Sebastien Douget suggested to AFP that “Egypt has the means to become the main hydrogen exporter to Europe in 2050 thanks to existing natural gas pipelines” repurposed for hydrogen.

The European official also informed AFP that the issue of migration would be on the agenda during von der Leyen’s visit.

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