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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 2, 2009
10:25 AM

CONTACT: CODEPINK

Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK co-founder, 0112----0195081493 or  0112---0194812932 (in Egypt)
Jean Stevens, CODEPINK national media coordinator, 508-769-2138

CODEPINK Women Arrive in Cairo, En Route to Gaza Border

Plan to Meet with Women's Groups, Hamas Officials

CAIRO, Egypt - February 2 - Members of the leading women's peace group CODEPINK arrived at the Egypt-Gaza border today, hoping to enter the territory to witness the horrific damage of the 22-day Israeli attacks, demand an opening of borders for humanitarian aid, meet with Palestinian women's aid groups and, if possible, Hamas officials.

WHAT: CODEPINK women at Gaza border, plan meet with women's groups and Hamas officials
WHEN: Feb. 2 to Feb. 9
WHERE: Cairo, Gaza

 

Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK co-founder, and retired Col. Ann Wright, former U.S. state department official, arrived in Cairo, Egypt Sunday and today visited the U.S. embassy in Cairo for their "letter of acknowledgment of risk" before driving five hours to the border with Gaza.

On the 10-day citizen diplomacy trip, organized by CODEPINK, they plan to learn the needs of the Gaza people and demonstrate what George Mitchell, the Obama administration's Special Envoy for Middle East Peace currently visiting several Middle East countries, should do. So far, Mitchell has refused to visit Gaza and meet with Hamas.

"What sense does it make to send a Special Envoy to the Middle East, but not have him visit war-torn Gaza and speak to Hamas?" Benjamin said. "In our visit to Gaza, we will be doing precisely what George Mitchell should be doing—getting an understanding of the devastation that resulted from the Israeli invasion, and talking to governmental, non-governmental and U.N. representatives."

Benjamin and Wright will also meet with Palestinian aid groups including the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, the Gaza Community Mental Health Program and the Union of Palestinian Women's Committees, to discuss plans for CODEPINK's new worldwide call to action, "International Women's Day 2009: Dedicated to the Women of Gaza," designed to commemorate the women of Gaza on March 8, the United Nations-designated International Women's Day. The call is endorsed by the National Congress of Black Women, Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq, American Muslim Voice, author Alice Walker and journalist Laura Flanders.

Through this call to action, CODEPINK and partner groups will raise funds for the women of Gaza. An international women's delegation will return to Gaza from March 8 to 13 to deliver the aid to several groups, including the aforementioned groups, the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. With international pressure and the determination of the women in the delegation, CODEPINK is confident the Egyptian government will let the aid through.

In Gaza, 22 days of Israeli attacks earlier this year left more than 1,000 dead, including 412 children. Women have largely taken on the role as the primary caretakers of their families and communities while dealing with their own heartbreak. As in all communities ravaged by war and violence, they've become largely responsible for providing water, food, medicine, electricity and heat in the face of shortages for families and communities. Many women are also more at risk medically, as maternity wards often become surgical wards.

"The Israeli attack came after 18 months of a crippling blockade that had already left the Palestinian population hungry, sick, weak, and suffering from a catastrophic situation," Benjamin said. "We must not only provide massive humanitarian aid, but lift the blockade that is keeping the people of Gaza under siege."

For more information and interviews, please call Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK co-founder, at 0112----0195081493 or 0112---0194812932.

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CODEPINK is a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, stop new wars, and redirect our resources into healthcare, education, green jobs and other life-affirming activities. CODEPINK rejects foreign policies based on domination and aggression, and instead calls for policies based on diplomacy, compassion and a commitment to international law. With an emphasis on joy and humor, CODEPINK women and men seek to activate, amplify and inspire a community of peacemakers through creative campaigns and a commitment to non-violence.



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