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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
2 September 2008


Spokesperson's Noon Briefing

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


DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL


The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Marie Okabe, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Janos Tisovszky, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly. Good afternoon. I’m sorry, I am a little late; I was waiting for a couple of things.  We do have the General Assembly Spokesman here as well to give you an update immediately after my briefing.

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**Questions and Answers

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Question:  Marie, do you have any update on the humanitarian situation in occupied Gaza? Deputy Spokesperson:  Yes, we have both the UN Special Coordinator, Robert Serry, and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), have issued statements today. 

Mr. Serry expresses his concern at the reports of transfers and replacements of health and teaching professionals in the Gaza Strip.  These actions and subsequent strike called by the unions threaten the provision of health and education services to the people of Gaza who already face considerable hardship.  The situation only further entrenches the division between Gaza and the West Bank and prejudices the prospects for Palestinian reunification within the framework of the legitimate Palestinian authorities. 

UNRWA, for its part, says the UN is increasingly concerned about the interruption in health and education services that is exposing hundreds of thousands of people already hard-hit by the deteriorating humanitarian situation to further suffering.  And it calls on all concerned to put the interests of the civilian population they serve first and to insure delivery of the vital public services of health and education.  So that’s available for you.

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Question:  Marie, you mentioned Mr. Serry and the UNRWA reactions to the situation in Gaza.  Does the Secretary-General have any comment on the situation there? Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, this is the first reaction that we just got from the ground, from our two top people dealing with the situation there.  The Secretary-General has been on a flight for a few hours now, so I don’t have anything direct from him.  But, as you know, he has constantly flagged the importance to resolve the humanitarian; his concerns about the humanitarian situation on the ground in Gaza.

Question:  With reference to the original report about Gaza that you read a few moments ago, I listened very carefully and I did not particularly hear anything, but has there been any suggestion or implication there that these problems were in any way due to the closure or now occasional closure of the border crossings on the part of the Israelis?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I think today’s statement had to do with the particular situation, the health and education services, but we can certainly see if the statement...(interrupted)

Question:  (Inaudible)...problems entirely within the Gaza Strip and the Government in educational system?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I have nothing beyond what I’ve read to you.

Correspondent:  Thank you.

/... If no more questions, then thank you very much for your attention.
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