David Cameron calls for more aid to Gaza in visit to Cairo

UK Foreign Secretary also warns Iran over support for Houthis in Red Sea after meeting Egypt's President Abdel Fattah El Sisi

David Cameron calls for more aid to enter Gaza

David Cameron calls for more aid to enter Gaza
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Britain and Egypt's foreign ministers called for more aid to enter Gaza in a joint press conference from Cairo on Thursday.

UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron visited Cairo, where he met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to discuss the war in Gaza and other issues.

Mr Cameron and his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry called for more more aid to enter Gaza.

The enclave is in vital need of more food supplies and starvation is widespread, the WHO said on Tuesday.

Aid deliveries have been piling up outside the Rafah and Kerem Shalom border crossings into Gaza, delayed by a rigorous checking process by Israeli authorities.

Mr Cameron said the British government was exploring other routes for aid to enter Gaza.

“Are there opportunities for aid to come from Cyprus in British ships to be delivered to Gaza? We’re working on that," he said.

“Everything that can be done, must be done to get aid into Gaza to help people in the desperate situation they are in.”

'Sustainable ceasefire'

Mr Cameron repeated the UK's support for a "sustainable ceasefire" in Gaza – which falls short of the "permanent ceasefire" called for by Arab countries.

He specified that under the sustainable ceasefire, "Hamas is no longer able to threaten Israel with rockets”.

Mr Shoukry emphasised the need for the UN Security Council to push through a draft resolution for an end to hostilities in Gaza and to increase international pressure on Israel to allow more aid into the embattled enclave.

The resolution has already been approved by 70 countries and has underscored the disproportionate effect that the war has had on Gaza’s women and children.

“We understand the political considerations of the council and we, as the Arab bloc, have been very flexible, amid repeated tweaks to our original requests. But humanitarian matters, however, should precede political ones when it comes to the UN Security Council. That’s why the UN was created,” Mr Shoukry said.

The council has thus far stalled in its negotiations on Gaza and has taken a long time “even to call what is happening there by what it actually is”, Mr Shoukry said.

“We are very keen to see consensus arrived at so that Security Council resolution – which is really all about aid and the delivery of aid, and the need to upscale the aid and the need for it to get through in far bigger numbers – that can go through. Talks continue and Britain will do what it can to try and build that consensus in New York at the Security Council,” Mr Cameron said.

Mr Cameron rejected criticism that the West has implemented double standards in its response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, when western governments immediately condemned Russia, and Israel's war in Gaza, where they say Israel has the right to destroy Hamas.

“I do not accept the implications of a double standard when comparing the response to Gaza with Ukraine. What happened in Ukraine was Russia, another country, invaded Ukraine and completely blitzed it. Ukraine is one of the world’s largest breadbaskets and I believe every country should condemn what Russia did and support Ukraine,” he said.

Cameron warns Iran over Houthis

President El Sisi and Mr Cameron also addressed the continued attacks by Iran-backed Houthis on ships in the Red Sea, which has significantly affected global trade.

The Houthis have launched a campaign of drone and missile strikes against international shipping in support of Hamas against Israel, forcing some of the world’s largest shipping companies to halt their routes through the Suez Canal.

Mr Cameron's visit was also intended to make it "absolutely clear" to Iran the danger of encouraging the Houthis to attack vessels in the Red Sea, he said.

“We really must see an end to these threats,” he said.

The United States on Monday announced a 10-nation coalition – Operation Prosperity Guardian – to thwart Houthi missile and drone attacks on ships in the Red Sea.

The UK Royal Navy's warship HMS Diamond has joined the operation, Mr Cameron said, hinting at a greater British involvement in the coalition.

“We’re a trading nation all over the world and I think it’s absolutely essential not just for us, but for everybody," he said.

Egypt is co-operating with the coalition and talks are under way to determine the best way to deal with the Houthi threat, Mr Shoukry said.


Mr Cameron also discussed the issue of migration with Mr El Sisi.

Egypt is home to nine million refugees, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

North Africa is one of the main transit points for migrants heading to the UK.

The UK government, which Mr Cameron joined last month, has pledged to lower immigration, despite recording the highest annual net migration yet in 2022.

Egypt has also pledged to increase development programmes at home to curb the flow of Egyptians emigrating to other countries, Mr Shoukry said at the conference.

Mr Cameron visited Jordan before travelling to Cairo for talks accompanied by Britain's Minister of State for the Middle East Tariq Ahmad.

Updated: December 21, 2023, 8:04 PM