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Source: Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories (UNSCO)
17 January 2002
Statement by UN Special Coordinator Terje Roed-Larsen
17 January 2002

Today, the UN Special Coordinator Mr. Terje Roed-Larsen, made the following statement:

"Today I hosted at the United Nations' offices in Jerusalem, members of the Avraham family, the Avitan family and the Soaud family - whose sons were abducted in October 2000, in an act condemned by the United Nations and the international community. Tragically, according to IDF reports, their sons are believed no longer to be alive.

Let me say that today was an emotional and difficult day. For the families involved, this was the first contact they have had with the items carried by their sons during their tragic abduction over one year ago. Their grief was devastating; their dignity, profoundly moving.

I shared once again my personal condolences, and those of the United Nations Secretary-General, for the suffering they have experienced.

On a personal note, I would like to extend my gratitude to Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and to Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer, whose personal efforts on behalf of the three families contributed to a resolution of this issue.

As agreed by the United Nations Secretary-General and the three families at a meeting in the Oslo Synagogue, I today showed the families video material and still photographs found in the possession of UNIFIL. This material relates to the humanitarian condition of their sons. I also returned to the families a number of personal effects which have been demonstrated to belong to the families, and items stained with blood which testing procedures, organized under the auspices of the World Health Organization, had proved to be that of their sons.

This event followed a variety of meetings during the past year between United Nations officials and the Government of Israel, in which the procedures for today's meeting to address humanitarian concerns were agreed. As agreed, no items or information of a military nature were shown or handed over to the families.

Finally, I wish to add that I do hope that today's events are a further step in restoring good relations between the United Nations and the Government of Israel. I can assure the families that the United Nations has not lost sight of the need to continue efforts to seek evidence of what happened to their three sons, or to recover their bodies. The United Nations is fully prepared to contribute to efforts in this regard."

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