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30 April 2002
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY FRED ECKHARD
SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS
UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Tuesday, April 30, 2002
MIDDLE EAST: ANNAN "MINDED" TO DISBAND UN FACT-FINDING MISSION
Upon entering the building this morning, the Secretary-General was
by reporters to respond to accounts in the media that Israel was not going to allow the UN fact-finding team for Jenin to enter, and he responded that, although he had heard the press reports, he was waiting to hear formally from the Israeli authorities. He said, “My understanding was that Foreign Minister [Shimon] Peres was going to write to me after the Cabinet decision.”
Asked about Israel’s concerns regarding the fact-finding team, he added, “We've really done everything to meet them, to deal with their concerns. And I think we've been very forthcoming. Obviously the decision is theirs, and I'm waiting, as I said, to get a formal notification.”
[Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast briefed Security Council members and then told reporters that "in the Secretary-General's view a thorough, credible and balanced report on recent events in Jenin refugee camp would not be possible without the full cooperation of the government of Israel." Prendergast went on to say, " In these circumstances, and since it appears from today's Cabinet statement by Israel that the difficulties in the way of deployment of the fact-finding team will not be resolved any time soon, the Secretary-General is minded to disband the team and I have so informed the Council." The team has been working in Geneva while awaiting the green light to travel to the Middle East.]
UN AGENCIES: ISRAEL CONTINUES TO IMPEDE EFFORTS TO AID PALESTINIANS
UN aid agencies, at a
press conference in Geneva
today, drew attention to the continuing problems in providing assistance to tens of thousands of Palestinians in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, because of blockages by Israel.
The agencies say that a worrying pattern is emerging of impediments to UN humanitarian assistance by Israeli officials and the Israeli Defense Forces. The UN’s humanitarian staff are on a regular basis running into obstruction and delays while trying to bring humanitarian assistance into the occupied Palestinian territories.
Rene Aquarone, Chief of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)
Liaison Office in Geneva, who had just returned from a mission to the occupied territories, said in Geneva today that the entire Gaza Strip was currently under a situation of "economic strangulation." All movement inside the Gaza Strip was severely restricted. Meanwhile, in the West Bank, there are still restrictions on the movement of Palestinians, requiring international staff to perform all tasks, from driving trucks to unloading aid.
Ross Mountain, Assistant Emergency Relief Coordinator, said the major humanitarian priorities at the present time were unexploded ordnance, particularly in Jenin and Nablus; shelter, particularly in Jenin where 800 housing units had been destroyed and others had suffered extensive damage; psychological and social work; and infrastructure.