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Source: Department of Public Information
18 October 2002

18 October 2002

REGULAR PRESS BRIEFING BY THE INFORMATION SERVICE


The briefing was chaired by Marie Heuzé, Director of the Information Service at Geneva, and was attended by Spokespersons for UNRWA, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, the World Meteorological Organization, the United Nations Development Programme, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the United Nations Children's Fund, the High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration, and the International Labour Office.

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The Middle East

The Secretary-General had yesterday issued a statement in which he deplored the latest attack by the Israel Defense Force in the Rafah refugee camp. UNRWA Commissioner-General Peter Hansen also expressed his dismay in a separate statement. Copies of both statements were available in the Documentation Centre.

Rene Aquarone, Chief of the Liaison Office of UNRWA in Geneva, said that according to the latest information, the attack by Israel on the Rafah refugee camp had only killed six Palestinians, not seven as earlier reported, and had wounded 44, many of them in serious condition, so the death toll could still rise.

Mr. Aquarone said that UNRWA was "terribly concerned" at the way that UNRWA was sometimes at the receiving end of military material. In this last attack, one of UNRWA's school labs was entirely destroyed and another shell landed on a school but did not explode. These attacks were very traumatic for the children.

The Director said that Ross Mountain, the UN Assistant Emergency Coordinator who had led the UN technical assessment mission in the occupied Palestinian territories, was returning to Geneva later today. He met with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres last Wednesday. He would brief journalists on Monday, probably around 2:30 p.m. but the exact time would be confirmed later. Mr. Mountain would be highlighting his deep concern about delays in distribution of humanitarian aid in the occupied territories as well as delays in following up on the visit by Catherine Bertini, the Secretary-General's Personal Humanitarian Envoy, who had visited the region in mid-August.

In response to a question on whether information was available on the outcome of Ms. Bertini's trip, the Director said that she would check and get back to the journalist.

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