The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People this afternoon discussed the question of humanitarian aid for Lebanon, hearing a statement by the Co-ordinator of Assistance for the Reconstruction and Development of Lebanon.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Syria, Pakistan, the German Democratic Republic and Malta, as well as by the Observer from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
The Committee also decided to keep in touch with the non-aligned bureau regarding a proposal before that bureau calling for a resumption of the General Assembly's emergency special session on the question of Palestine.
Also this afternoon, the Rapporteur of the Committee reported on actions taken with regard to the forthcoming seminar on Palestinian rights, and the Conference on the Question of Palestine scheduled for 1983.
The Chairman, MASSAMBA SARRE (Senegal), said the situation in Lebanon affected not only the Lebanese people, but also the Palestinian people; the Committee had been mandated by the General Assembly to look after the rights of the Palestinians.
He recalled that on three occasions he had sent letters to the Secretary-General. He had also personally contacted the Secretary-General.
He said the main reason for the meeting today was to stress the humanitarian aspect of the situation, which was of primary concern.
IQBAL AKHUND, Co-ordinator of Assistance for the Reconstruction and Development of Lebanon, said that on 10 June, the Secretary-General had received a letter from the Lebanese Government, drawing his attention to the damage in the area, and asking him to organize a relief effort.
In fact, he said, the Secretary-General had already acted, alerting agencies in the area to assist as they could. He had also appealed to Member States to provide relief and had asked Mr. Akhund to serve as his co-ordinator.
The World Food Programme (WFP) had recently approved an $11.5 million aid programme, and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) had approved a $5 million aid programme, he said. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) had also organized assistance in its areas. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was providing aid in Tyre and Sidon.
He said one difficulty was to determine the exact dimension of the problem. The situation had not settled down yet and there was still fighting in Beirut. The Secretary-General intended to organize an interagency mission to Cyprus as soon as possible to determine Lebanon's needs.
He said another difficulty was getting the aid already available into Lebanon. There were three main routes, since Beirut airport was closed. One was by air from Larnaca to Tel Aviv, and then by road to southern Lebanon. Another was to fly to Damascus and then through circuitous routes to reach Beirut and the Bekaa Valley. A third was by sea from Cyprus to ports in Lebanon.
ZEHDI LABIB TERZI, Observer from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said the area north of Beirut had not suffered from the invasion. The Palestinians and Lebanese in the south of Beirut were the victims. He understood that a Red Cross ship destined for Sidon had been turned back because the Israelis said that the port of Sidon was mined. Mr. Terzi said he had received instructions stating that the port was not mined, and was operating.
A mission to go to the area to assess the damage was of primary importance, Mr. Terzi said.
He thanked the United Nations agencies that were involved, the Red Cross, and the Catholic Relief Organization for their assistance. He hoped recognition for their work would be expressed.
It was important that the relief aid meant for the 600,000 or 800,000 people displaced in the south of Lebanon to reach its proper destination, he said. So far, only part of the tonnage had arrived in the areas where it was needed. The United Nations should ensure that the assistance immediately reached its destination. He knew the Israelis could do their utmost to prevent the aid from reaching its proper destination, he said.
The Israelis, in their statements, had repeatedly used the word "eradicate" in referring to PLO, he said. Since PLO represented the Palestinian people, that was genocide.
Mr. AKHUND said present policy was to bring aid to the area as quickly and efficiently as possible. Distribution of foodstuffs had already begun in Beirut and In southern Lebanon.
DIA-ALLAH EL-FATTAL (Syria) asked how one could channel private assistance to the area, to the regions where the disaster had actually occurred. He referred to cash as well as foodstuffs and medicaments.
Mr. AKHUND replied that cash contributions could be made to the Trust Fund for assistance to Lebanon (see Press Release SG/SM/3301-IHA/337 of 14 June ).
The CHAIRMAN said the consensus in the Committee seemed to be that it would take note of the gravity of the situation in southern Lebanon and Beirut, and appeal to all private and public organizations, particularly the United Nations and its specialized agencies, to make sure that humanitarian assistance was dispatched as quickly as possible to the victims of the invasion. The Committee, while thanking the Secretary-General for his efforts, would ask him "to step up his vigilance", the Chairman said.
KHALID MAHMOOD (Pakistan) said the situation in Lebanon was indeed very grave, involving as it did, Israeli aggression against Lebanon, which was directed at the decimation of the Palestinians. While the United Nations groped for a political solution, he said, the rendering of humanitarian assistance was of great importance. Pakistan had already decided to supply rice and sugar, and a medical team and equipment, he informed the Committee.
KURT KUTSCHAN (German Democratic Republic) said the Foreign Minister of the German Democratic Republic had sent a telegram today to the Secretary-General, saying that the German Democratic Republic fully supported the call for an immediate cease-fire in Lebanon and the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon.
Mr. TERZI, Observer from PLO, said the atrocious activities by the Israelis against Palestinian people in the occupied territories were escalating. Village councils were being disbanded, others were being threatened.
The Israelis had clearly stated that the objective of their invasion of Lebanon was to exterminate PLO. The PLO was the Palestinian people, he said.
The Security Council had called for a cease-fire on 6 June. Today, 22 June, the Israelis were still shelling Lebanon. And they were not shelling PLO. They were shelling civilians.
On 8 June, the Security Council had attempted to give concrete guidelines to resolutions 508 and 509, he said. But the United States had vetoed the draft resolution by which the Council would have called for an Israeli withdrawal within a fixed time-frame. Thus, he said, since 8 June, the United States had been obstructing the Council's work, and encouraging Israeli genocide against the Palestinian people.
The Arab Group and the non-aligned group had been holding consultations to consider resuming the General Assembly's emergency special session on Palestine.
He said: "If the United States continues to support Israel, and if Israel continues its genocidal acts, we would like the support of the Committee in calling for a resumption of the emergency special session of the General Assembly on Palestine".
The CHAIRMAN said that the Committee should be in touch with the non-aligned and relevant groups to discuss that matter. He then called on the Rapporteur, Victor Gauci (Malta), to report on actions taken in connection with a forthcoming seminar on Palestinian rights, and the Conference on the Question of Palestine, scheduled for 1983.
Mr. GAUCI (Malta), the Rapporteur, that it almost did not seem right under the current circumstances, to report on the status of the seminar and preparations for the proposed Conference. However, preparations were continuing. If representatives or others knew of any knowledgeable people including politicians or trade unionists, who could be participants, their names should be proposed. What was important, he said, was the ability to galvanize public opinion.
In regard to the present situation, he said: "I think all of us are firmly behind the Palestinians and the people of Lebanon in their predicament°"
At the proposed emergency special session on Palestine, he said, for once, there should be a resolution resoundingly in honour of the rights of the Palestinian people, as well as the territorial integrity of Lebanon. That could be supported by all except perhaps one or two countries, he said, which he would not name.
Mr. KUTSCHAN (German Democratic Republic) said he supported the proposal of PLO for a possible resumption of the emergency special session on Palestine.