EU concern 
over barrier construction around village near Bethlehem

A group of diplomats from the European Union and EU Member States yesterday visited the village of Al Walaja, close to Bethlehem, to voice their concern over the humanitarian impact and political implications of the planned route of the separation barrier in the village.
Representatives of the Local Council briefed the delegation on the latest developments regarding to the effects of the construction of the barrier, the expansion of settlements and escalating violence by settlers.
The EU has been providing humanitarian support to Al Walaja through UNRWA's health and education services and also works on empowering the local community and fostering local participation via a Community Development Project with Oxfam UK, which was present at yesterday’s visit.
Through the EU-Oxfam project, residents have formed a community committee, which advocates for local needs and acts as an intermediary between people and the different government bodies responsible for serving them. The project targets a total of six communities in the West Bank, which suffer from lack of services, such as access to water and sanitation, roads, schools, and hospitals and experience particularly high unemployment and poverty levels.
The village of Walaja, 10km south of Jerusalem in the West Bank, is one of many communities in the West Bank affected by the route of the Israeli Barrier. With construction around the village having begun, residents face the threat of destroyed livelihoods, increased poverty and dependency on humanitarian aid. Some residents face the prospect of their homes soon being totally encircled.
The EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah last week issued a statement expressing concern that the barrier – when completed – would completely encircle al-Walaja, and reiterated that the barrier is illegal under international law wherever built on occupied land. (ENPI Info Centre)
Read more
Press release
Local EU Statement on Al Walaja (02-09-11)
European Commission Technical Assistance Office for the West Bank and Gaza Strip
EU External Action – Occupied Palestinian Territory
External Cooperation – Occupied Palestinian Territory

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