Australia’s Union Aid Abroad organisation (APHEDA) has deplored the recent destruction of the offices of its partner organisation, Ma’an Development Centre in Ramallah on Sunday.

Peter Jennings, Executive Officer of APHEDA (Australian People for Health Education and Development Abroad) said that two floors of the Ma’an Centre were destroyed when Israeli military raided and set fire to the Labour centre on the third floor of the Chamber of Commerce building in central Ramallah city on Sunday. The Ma’an training rooms and offices on the above floors were also destroyed. Water was cut off at the time and the fire brigade was not allowed access to fight the fire.

Since 1989 substantial AusAID funding and donations from the Australian community have been invested through Union Aid Abroad to Ma’an for skills training for the Palestinian people.

“This attack by the Israeli forces along with another attack on the Al Asra’ building housing local non-governmental organisations and human rights groups is a deliberate attempt by the Israeli military to undermine positive local and international contributions to peace building,” Mr Jennings said today.

Ma’an director, Sami Khader, called for lifting of the siege of the Palestinian communities. “There is a critical need for international peace monitors and emergency assistance. We have no water, food, electricity or access to medical services.”

Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA, the humanitarian overseas aid arm of the Australian Trade Union Movement, assists more than 50 skills training projects in 15 countries, including projects with Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza and Lebanon. APHEDA supports the call for international monitors and the implementation of the United Nations resolutions, starting with an immediate withdrawal by the Israeli military from the territories occupied in 1967.

For further information contact:
Peter Jennings (02) 9264 9343 0409 047 353
Ken Davis 0438 420 631