EU’s von der Leyen says Gaza facing famine, ceasefire needed rapidly


CAIRO (Reuters) – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Sunday that Gaza was facing famine and there had to be a rapid ceasefire agreement in the war between Israel and Hamas.

“Gaza is facing famine and we cannot accept this,” von der Leyen told reporters, speaking in Cairo after signing a strategic partnership agreement with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

“It is critical to achieve an agreement on a ceasefire rapidly now that frees the hostages and allows more humanitarian aid to reach Gaza.”

Sisi said that Egypt and European leaders have agreed to reject an Israeli military operation in Rafah.

“(An operation) would double the humanitarian catastrophe that civilians in the Gaza Strip are suffering from, in addition to the effects of that operation on liquidating the Palestinian cause, which Egypt outright rejects,” Sisi said.

Their comments follow the announcement of a 7.4 billion euro ($8.1 billion) funding package from the EU for Egypt, as well as an upgrade in relations with the North African nation, part of a push – criticised by rights groups – to stem migrant flows to Europe.

(Reporting by Andrew Gray; Editing by Frances Kerry and Hugh Lawson)

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