Pretoria – South Africa’s International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Nomaindia Mfeketo will attend an emergency meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Committee on Palestine, next week.

Deputy Minister Mfeketo will join President Jacob Zuma’s Special Envoys to the Middle East, Zola Skweyiya and former Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad for the meeting scheduled on Monday.

The meeting – called by Iran, will discuss and consider the current situation and latest developments in Palestine, especially the situation in Gaza.

The conflict has left more than 1 300 Palestinians dead and 6 000 injured according to the United Nations. More than 80 percent of those killed have been civilians; 251 children. Israel has faced rocket fire, and the hostilities have resulted in the deaths of three civilians and 56 soldiers, with dozens injured.

The current crisis in Gaza takes place against the backdrop of decades of instability, poverty and vulnerability resulting from repeated outbreaks of hostilities and the ongoing blockade on land, air and sea.

More than 80 percent of Gaza’s population of 1.8 million – more than half of them children under the age of 18 –were already dependent on humanitarian aid before the outbreak of hostilities.

The United Nations estimates that up to 440 000 people in Gaza are now displaced, almost 24 percent of the population.

More than 240 000 are being hosted in schools run by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), while others are seeking refuge wherever they can – in government buildings, hospital grounds or with families and friends.

“South Africa remains committed to the Palestinian struggle for self-determination, freedom and justice. The International Year of Solidarity with the People of Palestine, declared as such by the United Nations (UN), should be utilised to initiate concrete programs and activities aimed at supporting the just and legitimate cause of the Palestinians,” Dirco Spokesperson Clayson Monyela said.

Through participation in the NAM, Monyela said South Africa continues to share similar positions on various issues with other countries of the South and to work with these countries to create political, economic and social convergence for the fight against poverty and underdevelopment.

Other committee members include Algeria, Bangladesh, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Palestine, Senegal, Zambia and Zimbabwe, who last met in May.

at the time, the committee adopted the Declaration on Palestine, which reaffirms unconditional support to the cause of the Palestinian people.