4 December 2008 – Some crossings into Gaza, including fuel pipelines, were opened today, allowing a limited amount of United Nations humanitarian supplies to reach the area’s 1.5 million inhabitants.
The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) delivered six truckloads of Jordanian-donated aid into Gaza, but the agency noted that an additional 10 trucks of oil and tinned meat were not allowed entrance into the territory.
UNRWA has stressed that it needs to send 15 trucks a day into Gaza just to maintain its basic operations, but it has only managed to deliver 37 trucks of emergency relief supplies over the last month, UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters in New York.
Meanwhile, UNRWA Commissioner General Karen AbuZayd opened a year-long series of events today in Jerusalem to mark the agency’s 60th anniversary on 8 December.
“Closures in the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza add to the terrifying sense of being trapped, physically, intellectually and emotionally, depriving children of that simplest of rights, the right to be a child,” said Ms. AbuZayd.
Ms. AbuZayd said that the anniversary was a time for sober reflection on why a “temporary agency” still exists and a time to ponder the realities of the refugees after 60 years of exile, dispossession and statelessness.
“While the 60th anniversary of UNRWA is nothing to celebrate, it is an occasion to pay tribute to the people, the vast majority of them refugees, who have been part of this unique agency over six decades and to those who have benefited and made such good use of its services,” she added.
Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, UNRWA was established by the General Assembly to carry out direct relief and works programmes for Palestine refugees.