The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

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

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

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.

CODEPINK is a women-led grassroots organization working to end U.S. wars and militarism, support peace and human rights initiatives, and redirect our tax dollars into healthcare, education, green jobs and other life-affirming programs.

(818) 275-7232