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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
26 March 2004

Press Statement
UN Forced to Consider Humanitarian Cut-Back in Gaza
Heads of Agencies Call on Israel to Lift Movement Restrictions


New York and Gaza City, March 26- The heads of the United Nations agencies may have to reduce or terminate some critical humanitarian relief operations in Gaza due to new movement restrictions imposed on UN personnel and humanitarian assistance by the Government of Israel.

For the last three weeks, nearly all UN and other humanitarian agency vehicles have been prohibited from crossing through the Erez checkpoint. In addition, the movement of food containers through Karni – the only commercial crossing point in Gaza – is currently obstructed.

These unacceptable limitations on access for humanitarian staff and goods are undermining UN operational capability to deliver essential services and food relief to Gaza’s civilian population. These operations provide more than half of Gaza’s essential social services, as well as food assistance to several hundred thousand people. Any cutbacks will lead to a further deterioration of the already fragile humanitarian situation in Gaza.

The UN recognizes Israel’s legitimate security concerns and senior official have repeatedly sought to engage the Government of Israel to resolve these concerns, but without success. Because the restrictions persist, the UN is compelled to call publicly on the Government of Israel to restore full access to Gaza for UN and humanitarian workers and goods.

The UN agencies include:

UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)
World Food Programme
UNICEF
UNDP
WHO
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
UN Special Co-ordinator’s Office (UNSCO)

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