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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
17 November 2008

Spokesperson's Noon Briefing

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York


The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Marie Okabe, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

** Gaza Turning to Gaza, the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) reports that the Kerem Shalom crossing point between Israel and Gaza was opened today.  As a result, the World Food Programme was able to get nine trucks into Gaza.  But the fuel pipelines remained closed – meaning that Gaza is still experiencing power problems.

Meanwhile, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) managed to get eight trucks into Gaza, containing luncheon meat and powdered milk for babies.  But many of the powdered milk containers were opened with knives by the authorities, resulting in thousands of dollars worth of damage, according to UNRWA.

UNRWA says its food distribution program will be able to resume as of tomorrow – but for “days not weeks.”  In that context, UNRWA stresses its need for consistent and large-scale influxes of supplies.


**Questions and Answers

Question:  Marie, I am intrigued by this story about the opening of the powdered milk at the border crossing.  You say that it was cut open with knives by the authorities.  What authorities are we talking about?  This is a border.  It could be the Israelis, it could be the Palesti…the Hamas Government in Gaza.  And should that not be routinely specified?  And you said there were thousands of dollars of losses.  Are you saying therefore that they not only knifed, cut open the containers, but they dumped a lot of it on the floor?  What happened there, as far as you know?

Deputy Spokesperson:  George, I think I read to you everything that I know on the subject and I think the main concern expressed by the humanitarian agency was simply that powdered milk that was desperately needed by the infants, and the babies who needed it were no longer being able to be delivered to them.  For any other details you will have to get in touch with the agency later.  Masood?


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For information media • not an official record

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