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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
14 November 2008

Spokesperson's Noon Briefing

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


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

Briefing by the Associate Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Good afternoon.  Welcome.


**Secretary-General Statement on the Humanitarian and Security Situation in Gaza and Southern Israel

I have a statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General concerning the humanitarian and security situation in Gaza and southern Israel.

The Secretary-General is deeply concerned at the deterioration of the humanitarian and security situation in Gaza and southern Israel, and at the potential for further suffering and violence.  He calls on all parties to uphold international humanitarian and human rights law.

The Secretary-General reiterates his condemnation of rocket attacks.  He calls for an end to such attacks and urges full respect by all parties of the calm that has been in effect since 19 June 2008.  The Secretary-General is concerned that food and other life saving assistance is being denied to hundreds of thousands of people, and emphasizes that measures which increase the hardship and suffering of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip as a whole are unacceptable and should cease immediately.

In particular, he calls on Israel to allow urgently the steady and sufficient supply of fuel and humanitarian assistance.  He also calls on Israel to resume facilitating the activities of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and all humanitarian agencies, including through unimpeded access for UN officials and humanitarian workers.  And that statement is available upstairs.

** Gaza

Meanwhile, the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) reports that all crossings into Gaza are closed today –- including for fuel and aid workers.  It has now been nine days in a row that commercial and humanitarian food deliveries have been kept out of Gaza.

Because the fuel pipelines were blocked today, parts of Gaza are now experiencing power cuts of 8 to 12 hours a day.

Among the items that the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East is trying to get into Gaza is wool for a rehabilitation centre, where blind women knit sweaters.


**Questions and Answers

Question:  I didn’t hear part of your statement on the situation in Gaza.  But the question is whether the UN has any other options to maintain supplies to this Israeli-occupied area.

Associate Spokesperson:  It’s crucial for us to be able to go through the checkpoints to get supplies in.  That’s why the statement, which is available upstairs, you can have the full statement, emphasizes the need for Israel to help resume UNRWA’s efforts, to facilitate its activities, as well as the activities of other humanitarian agencies.  And one of the ways is unimpeded access for UN officials and for humanitarian workers.  And so, we’re calling on that to happen.

Question:  Since it is closed, is there any other way to get the supplies in?

Associate Spokesperson:  Well, we’re using all of our channels to do what we can; to make sure that Israel will again open the crossings.  It’s essential that the crossing points are open so, that we can get in the needed humanitarian aid.

Question:  There were reports, a few weeks ago, that the tunnels between Egypt and Gaza, which were used for smuggling weapons, they were pulling, pushing livestock through there.  If this is true, somebody in Gaza is eating steak.  But, and then another thing is that the Palestinians need to stop the rocket…

Associate Spokesperson:  Yes, a number of you came in after the statement was read.  The statement also reiterates the Secretary-General’s condemnation of rocket attacks and includes his call for an end to such attacks, and full respect by all parties of the calm that was in effect since June 2008.  So, that’s there as well.


Question:  Did the Secretary-General speak with President [Shimon] Peres or Foreign Minister [Tzipi] Livni during their stay here about Gaza, and if so, were there any details?

Associate Spokesperson:  Yes, he did, and in fact, I believe we provided a readout that, on Wednesday evening, he met with Foreign Minister Livni.  The humanitarian situation and the issues around Gaza were among the topics discussed.  We do have a full readout, if you want that, upstairs.

* *** *

For information media • not an official record

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