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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
15 February 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.

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** Middle East

Turning to the Middle East, Filippo Grandi, the Deputy Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), today briefed reporters in Geneva on the current situation in Gaza, Lebanon and the West Bank.  Grandi said the director of the large public hospital in Gaza had told him that he could no longer deal with people’s health problems since he had to spend his whole day looking for fuel.  Without fuel, generators and vital equipment, such as incubators for infants, would shut down.

Meanwhile, in the West Bank, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, there are still over 560 blockages of various sorts, which are making people’s lives increasingly difficult.  OCHA is concerned that such constraints may lead to increased political radicalization, particularly among the younger members of society.

In Lebanon, regarding the Nahr El-Bared camp for Palestinian refugees, which was destroyed last year in fighting, Grandi said that Lebanon’s Prime Minister and UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen AbuZayd have announced plans to rebuild the camp.  The reconstruction of the camp proper –- essentially a small town for more than 30,000 people -– is expected to cost $174 million, which represents a scale that is unprecedented for the UN, according to Grandi.

You can read more about that in the briefing notes from Geneva.

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**Questions and Answers

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Question:  Yesterday, Andrew Wheatley made a report in the Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.  He said that the money for humanitarian purposes, very little of it has been received.  But there was all this money pledged at the Paris Conference, and he pointed out that maybe the question was raised, is the money from the humanitarian being sent instead to the Paris impetus, and therefore the humanitarian will be short funded.  Do you know, is the Secretary-General or is there anybody looking into that and trying to make sure that all this money supposedly for the Paris efforts and yet the humanitarian is really underfunded?

Spokesperson:  I don’t know if you heard Philippo Grandi also mentioning today the needs for humanitarian purposes for the Palestinian refugees.  But in terms of funding, without specifically going into what you referred to, often there’s follow up that needs to go into pledges being made.  Pledges are one thing, but then the actual money coming in is something different.  You’d have to follow up with OCHA to see what the current situation is on that. 

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For information media • not an official record

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