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Israel and Iraq: Deputy Foreign Minister Lapo Pistelli begins 3-day visit to the front

Deputy Foreign Minister Lapo Pistelli is about to embark on a demanding 3-day trip for the purpose of carrying Italy’s message of solidarity to the planet’s “hottest” spots: Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Baghdad and Erbil.

He took off this morning from the UN base at Brindisi on board a humanitarian flight for Tel Aviv carrying 30 tonnes of emergency supplies from the Italian Cooperation earmarked for the Palestinian people, which include tents, blankets, emergency power generators, water purifiers and health and hygiene kits valued at approximately 350,000 euro. After arriving in Israel the goods are to be distributed by the UNRWA to the most vulnerable segments of the Palestinian population, women, children and the elderly.

“As we await the conditions for a permanent ceasefire”, Deputy Minister Pistelli said, “Italy intends to tangibly express its solidarity with the Palestinian people, who are paying the most serious price for the ongoing hostilities”.

The humanitarian flight is part of a broader emergency aid plan – recently announced by Minister Mogherini in Parliament – launched on behalf of the people of Gaza, whose overall amount has now surpassed 2 million euro.

Deputy Minister Pistelli will travel on to Iraq, stopping in Baghdad and Erbil, to extend a message of international solidarity to Iraqi institutions at a time of serious tension and violence following the ISIS offensive, and of encouragement toward the positive conclusion of political negotiations for the formation of a new Iraqi government. The mission will also offer an opportunity to reaffirm, in the name of the government currently holding the EU Presidency, that the security of Europe depends on the stability of that country and of the region.

“We cannot ignore the cries of pain coming from one of the world’s most ancient nations, with which Italy has always nurtured solid ties of friendship and intense political, cultural and economic relations”, Pistelli declared.

In Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region, Deputy Minister Pistelli will meet with government leaders and verify first hand the situation of the Christian community displaced in the conflict with a view to identifying the most effective means for continuing Italian humanitarian support for efforts by the UN agencies and NGOs on the ground on behalf of the Erbil authorities.