Edited by Patricia Simoni
31st March 2009
United States (U.S.) Patriot Act is preventing Save The Children Norway
from rebuilding schools in Gaza. The organization is in despair.
are allowed to distribute emergency rations, such as food and water,
but systematic relief efforts and rebuilding is blocked", according to
Bjørn Lindgren, Save The Children’s regional director for Europe and
the Middle East, in a Klassekampen interview. "It is a terrible policy
that keeps us from helping children."
After Israel’s war on Gaza
in January, much of the infrastructure is in ruins. Schools, hospitals,
roads, and different public offices were bombed. Three hundred thousand
people have no water, and UNICEF estimates that 8,000 children are
badly malnourished. But Save The Children and other aid organizations
are being prevented from rebuilding by U.S. legislation. According to
the Patriot Act, support to build schools or clinics in Gaza is
The core of the problem is that Hamas is
on the American list of terrorist organizations. According to U.S.
anti-terrorist legislation, it is a criminal act to conduct
transactions with individuals and organizations associated with
terrorism or with those who support these organizations. Hamas controls
of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health in Gaza.
Teachers, doctors and others who are working with these ministries are,
thus, seen to be associated with Hamas.
A note from Save The
Children USA points out that the law makes it illegal to deliver
medical equipment to hospitals run by the Ministry of Health, to teach
or pay teachers employed by schools run by the Ministry of Education,
or to give materials or support to rebuild public buildings, including
Save The Children Norway is part of the International
Save The Children Alliance. Their work is being directly prevented by
American legislation. Save The Children has been active in aid work on
the Gaza strip since 1973.
Lindgren is in despair over the
stoppage of their good work. "The Save The Children Alliance has
protested in the strongest possible way. This policy has led to a
unification within our movement to stand firmer on humanitarian
principles", he says.