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Source: Secretary-General
12 April 2002


The Secretary-General: Good morning ladies and gentlemen. I think you all heard me speak this morning, so let us go straight to questions.

Question: The refusal of Israel to withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories questions the credibility of the United Nations and reflects the failure of the Security Council to do something about it. What would you like to say about that? Also, as the moral conscience of the world, tell us your views about the invasion of the Jenin refugee camp?

The Secretary-General: I think I have been quite outspoken on that and my views are very clear. I think the Security Council has been very active on this issue and has passed three very important resolutions 1397, 1402 and 1403. And you cannot underestimate the importance of those documents. The whole world came together and said Israel and the Palestinians must do certain things, including withdrawal from the camps. And I think I will still urge Israel to withdraw immediately, which the Security Council has requested. On Wednesday in Madrid, the United States, the European Union, the Russian Federation and myself made the same appeal which was reconfirmed by the Security Council. I have also been concerned about the humanitarian situation in the camps. I have been working very closely with the UN humanitarian agencies and others to see what one can do to give assistance and support to the people. Once we get access to the camps, I think we are all going to have a lot of work to do. My own view is that the situation is so dangerous, and the humanitarian and human rights situation is so appalling - in fact you heard me say that this morning - but I think the proposition that a force should be sent in there to create a secure environment and as well as provide space for diplomatic and political negotiations can no longer be deferred. It is urgent, it is imperative. That capacity exists in the world today, we must now muster the will. Thank you.

(next two translated from French)
Question: Have you received any indications of violations of military laws by the Israelis in the camps?

The Secretary-General: Yes, humanitarian agencies talked to me about that. One must not forget that the UN has many people working over there, around 12,000. The Red Cross is also there, and other agencies, such as UNWRA. So we get a lot of reports. That is why I am very worried.

Question: In your statement to the Commission, you talked about the mission of the High Commissioner to the territories. But until now she has no visa. Can you, as Secretary-General, preside over a good offices visit?

The Secretary-General: There is a mediator, the United States, Mr. Powell is there today. I am in contact with him and others and we support his effort. We must not have a multiplicity of mediators, we must work together. Concerning the human rights mission, I hope of course it will get permission. Colin Powell and his team are there. The human rights mission did not yet receive permission from the Israeli Government but I hope that that does not mean it will not get it. I hope the mission will be able to go as soon as possible.

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