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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
24 July 2009


Spokesperson's Noon Briefing

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



DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Farhan Haq, Associate Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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**UNRWA

I would like to categorically deny reports that Hamas are in control of the aid effort in Gaza and that John Ging, the Director of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), has left his duty station in response to death threats from Hamas.  Those reports are entirely false.

At no stage has Mr. Ging ever fled Gaza, and his track record in the face of previous threats and attacks is a matter of public record.  Any suggestion that Hamas has any control or influence over UNRWA aid is similarly baseless.

UNRWA emphasizes that it is guided by universal UN principles and values and distributes its aid directly to the refugees on the basis of need and irrespective of the challenges faced.  The Hamas de facto Government has no influence whatsoever on who receives assistance from UNRWA, and it has respected the independence of UNRWA.

I’d also like to reiterate that the Quartet, in its statements, has called for unimpeded access for the supplies needed for the recovery and reconstruction of Gaza.

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**Questions and Answers

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Question:  Okay.  I also want to know what you said on the Middle East, the debate is going to take place on Monday.  Is there any update on the status of the 12,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails?  Has there been any update on the issue of settlements? Anything that the Israelis have done differently other than continue with the building?

Associate Spokesperson:  We don’t have anything further to say on this just yet.  Obviously every time we have these briefings to the Security Council, we do provide the latest updated figures.  And so I expect that on Monday we will have some updated figures for you.

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Question:  These two issues with regard to Gaza, several people have referred to the fact that the Gaza situation, the border crossings are still closed and that the attack on Gaza happened as part of this R2P and the failure of the international community to even take that into account.  And I wondered if there is anything further that the Secretary-General was doing with regard to any of it, or UNRWA is doing anything further with regard to getting those border crossings opened and being able to get the re-building going on.

Associate Spokesperson:  Yes, we continue to work as hard as we can at a variety of levels, from UNRWA on the ground, up through to the Secretary-General, to obtain the opening of all border crossings, not just to humanitarian aid, but also to commercial traffic.  At this stage, the Secretary-General continues to press on this case.  As you know, he also took up the issue within the format of the Quartet in Trieste, Italy, just about a month ago.  And so, yes, we do continue to pursue this, and we will, as I mentioned brief the Security Council again on Monday.

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Question:  Do you have an update on the compensation, Mr. Ban Ki-moon requesting Israel to pay for its military operation and the damages it made in the Gaza Strip?

Associate Spokesperson:  We continue to pursue that issue with the Israeli authorities.

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For information media • not an official record

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