Question of Palestine home
About the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People
Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP)
31 October 1993
Volume XVI, Bulletin No. 10
Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the
Human Rights of the Palestinian People and other Arabs of
the Occupied Territories Reports on Situation
UNRWA Commissioner-General reports to General Assembly
Excerpt from Communiqué of the Meeting of Ministers for Foreign
Affairs and Heads of Delegation of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries
to the forty-eighth session of the General Assembly, held at United
Nations Headquarters on 4 October 1993
Excerpt from Communiqué of the Meeting of the Heads of Government of the
Commonwealth Countries, Cyprus, 21-25 October 1993
Excerpt from Communiqué of the Meeting of the Heads of Government of the
Commonwealth Countries, Cyprus, 21-25 October 1993
UNRWA Commissioner-General announces Peace Implementation Programme:
European Community breaks ground for new hospital in Gaza Strip
Non-governmental organizations: activities and information
I. SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO INVESTIGATE ISRAELI PRACTICES AFFECTING
THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE AND OTHER ARABS
OF THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES REPORTS ON SITUATION
The twenty-fifth report of the Special Committee (A/48/557) was transmitted to the General Assembly by the Secretary-General on 1 November 1993. It followed two periodic reports (A/48/96 and A/48/278) which were transmitted to the Assembly on 8 January and 7 June 1993, respectively. In accordance with established practice, the reports were allocated to the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee) of the Assembly, together with a number of related reports.
The reports under the item were summarized as follows in a press release issued at United Nations Headquarters (GA/SPD/20):
"The Special Committee's three-part
report on Israeli practices in the
(documents A/48/96, A/48/278, A/48/557) reviews practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in that area from 27 August 1992 to 27 August 1993. It is based on written information gathered from various sources, in particular Israeli press reports and articles appearing in the Arab press published in the occupied territories. It also includes oral information received by the Special Committee through testimonies of persons having first-hand experience of the human rights situation in the occupied territories.
"The report of the Special Committee indicates a worsening of the critical situation of human rights in the occupied territories resulting from the severe repression of the uprising that began five and one-half years ago. It states that violence, as well as the climate of fear prevailing in the territories, stems from the illegal policy of annexation and settlement pursued by the Government of Israel since 1967 and the human rights violations that have been taking place since that time.
"According to the report, the civilian population of the occupied territories has continued to suffer heavy casualties from the disproportionately harsh and violent methods employed by the Israeli authorities to repress the popular uprising. Those measures have resulted in an increased loss of life and severe injuries among civilians, including small children, who clearly do not represent a security threat, the report says. The continued deployment of undercover units, a further relaxation of the rules for opening fire, and the use of live ammunition as well as rubber and plastic-coated bullets, have led to more than a 180 per cent increase in fatalities among children alone.
"The physical and psychological stress that the population of the occupied territories endured had been compounded by a series of unprecedented repressive measures taken by the Israeli authorities during the period under review. At the end of 1992, the army started to carry out a new form of collective punishment, which consists of destroying entire neighbourhoods with heavy artillery fire during searches for wanted persons. Scores of innocent people were left homeless in the searches, which were aimed at capturing a single fugitive, the report states.
"The increase in violence in both the occupied territories and Israel led the Israeli authorities to impose a complete closure of the territories on 31 March 1993. That action virtually divided the occupied territories into five distinct areas, namely, the Gaza strip, the northern West Bank, the southern West Bank, Jerusalem and the occupied Syrian Arab Golan.
"The closure has created enormous hardships for the people living in the occupied territories and has deprived about 120,000 persons of their means of livelihood, the report goes on to say. It has had a negative impact on the health situation in the occupied territories, since the most important medical facilities serving Palestinians are located in Jerusalem. Students have been prevented from attending classes in areas in which they do not reside and more than 25 per cent of the student population was unable to register in schools and universities. Access to both Muslim and Christian holy sites was also affected by the closure.
"The report notes that, unlike the settlers, the population of the occupied territories has systematically been denied access to water resources. The deliberate policy of economic pressure such as the uprooting of trees, tax raids and administrative harassment, has continued to be applied. Although no new settlements are known to have been established during the current reporting period, the expansion of already existing ones has continued. Furthermore, the administration of justice in the occupied territories is characterized by a lack of due process of law and a frequent absence of basic legal safeguards for the Arab population. The practice of torture and ill-treatment during interrogation and after sentencing has continued.
"The report stresses that the circumstances faced by the Palestinian and other Arabs, the critical living conditions and the climate of unprecedented violence prevailing in the occupied territories presents a serious threat to peace and stability in the region and international security in general. The international community must convince Israel to end its practices affecting the human rights situation in the region.
"In the preparation of the report, the Special Committee benefited from the cooperation of the Governments of Egypt, Jordan, and the Syrian Arab Republic and from the representatives of Palestinian representatives. However, the Government of Israel has continued to withhold its cooperation, the reports states.
"Also before the Special Political Committee are seven reports of the Secretary-General on
implementation of 1992 Assembly resolutions on Israeli practicesin the occupied territories
(documents A/48/537-543). The Assembly had condemned, among other things, the Israeli policies and practices of collective punishment, destruction and demolition of houses. It had also strongly condemned repression against and closing of educational institutions in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, as well as the arming of Israeli settlers in the occupied territories. The Assembly reiterated its call upon all States and international organizations not to recognize any changes carried out by Israel in the occupied territories and to avoid actions that might be used by Israel in its pursuit of the policies of annexation and colonization (resolution 47/70 A).
"The Assembly condemned once again the failure of Israel to acknowledge the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the occupied territories, including Jerusalem (resolution 47/70 B). It demanded that Israel comply strictly with its international obligations in accordance with the principles of international law and that it desist from taking any action that would result in changing the legal status, geographical nature or demographic composition of the occupied territories (resolution 47/70 C).
"The Assembly also called upon Israel to release all Palestinians and other Arabs arbitrarily detained or imprisoned (resolution 47/70 D). It demanded that the Government of Israel rescind the illegal measures taken by its authorities in deporting Palestinians and facilitate their immediate return (resolution 47/70 E). It strongly condemned Israel for its refusal to comply with the relevant resolutions of the Assembly and the Security Council, for its decision to impose its laws and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan and for its attempts to impose Israeli citizenship and identity cards on the Syrian citizens in the occupied Golan (resolution 47/70 F). The Assembly also condemned Israeli policies and practices against Palestinian students and faculty members in schools, universities and other educational institutions, especially the firing on defenceless students.
"The reports state that on 13 April, the Secretary-General wrote to Israel's Foreign Minister requesting information on steps Israel had taken or envisaged to implement the resolutions. No reply had been received at the time of the preparation of the reports." (See GA/SPD/20)
I. UNRWA COMMISSIONER-GENERAL REPORTS TO GENERAL ASSEMBLY
The Commissioner-General of UNRWA submitted his annual report to the General Assembly (A/48/13). A number of other reports relevant to the same item were submitted by the Secretary-General. The item was allocated to the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee) of the General Assembly. The reports were summarized as follows in a press release issued at Headquarters (GA/SPD/18):
"The report of the Commissioner-General includes a study of the situation of Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and focuses attention on their deteriorating standard of living. It analyses the impact of the closure imposed by Israel on the occupied territories and the Agency's emergency response to the crisis. The financial shortfall facing the Agency in 1993 and its activities in the three main programme areas of education, health and relief and social services are also examined.
"The report contains, for the first time, a preface, which describes the signing of the Declaration of Principles between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Government of Israel as a turning point in the region in general and in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in particular. `I therefore hope that this report covers an era which is gone forever', the Commissioner-General states. `The real significance of this report lies in the fact that it underscores how vital it was to reach such an agreement.'
"On the issue of the financial shortfall confronting the Agency in 1993, the report points out that the $28.5 million deficit had been reduced to some $4 million, mainly through austerity measures, administrative savings and additional contributions. In the current environment, the Commissioner-General is optimistic that UNRWA would receive increased contributions, as it would reflect donor support for the peace process.
"In a letter dated 6 October 1993 from the Chairman of the Advisory Commission of UNRWA to the Commissioner-General, contained in the report, the Commission expresses appreciation for the Agency's programme of assistance for over 2.8 million Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the occupied territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Commission welcomes, as a first step, the signing of the Declaration of Principles between the PLO and Israel. It states that, in order to ensure the further progress of the peace process, it is imperative that a significant improvement in the social and welfare services and the daily life of the Palestinians in the occupied territories be achieved as a matter of urgency.
"In the report's introduction the Commissioner-General states that, despite the peace negotiations, there was a serious deterioration in the living conditions of the Palestinian people culminating in some of the highest fatality figures recorded in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the
and Israeli countermeasures.
"The security situation began to deteriorate in late September 1992, when Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons in the occupied territory and inside Israel began a hunger strike over conditions of detention. At the end of the year under review there were an estimated 13,000 Palestinians in detention in the occupied territory and Israel. The situation worsened further in mid-December 1992, following the decision of the Government of Israel to deport more than 400 Palestinians from the occupied territory into the Israeli security zone in occupied southern Lebanon. Among the deportees were 16 UNRWA staff members.
"Following incidents of violence, including the killing of two Israeli policemen, Israel sealed off the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. UNRWA responded to the resulting hardship by distributing food to nearly 80,000 persons. The March closure of the occupied territory continued throughout the remainder of the period under review and resulted in increasing hardship for the 130,000 Palestinians who were suddenly cut off from the approximately $2.75 million per day in wages previously earned in Israel. Prior to the closure, more than one third of the gross national product (GNP) of the West Bank and half of the GNP of the Gaza Strip were from income derived in Israel, primarily from wage labour.
"The closure was accompanied by severe security measures, particularly in the Gaza Strip, which resulted in 29 killed in May 1993, the highest in a single month since the beginning of the
and Israeli countermeasures in December 1987. During the period under review, Israel's security forces were responsible for the deaths of 80 Palestinians from the West Bank, including eight children, and 120 persons from the Gaza Strip, among them 28 children. Attacks by Israeli settlers and armed civilians resulted in six Palestinian deaths. The safety of UNRWA staff serving in the occupied territory continued to cause concern. Two Agency staff were shot and killed in the Gaza Strip by the Israeli security forces and others have been subjected to beatings, threats, insults, intimidation and temporary detention.
"The Agency sent a special mission to Kuwait from July to September 1992 to assess the situation of the 25,000 Palestinians living there, the report states. It was disappointed that its efforts with concerned Governments on behalf of those Palestinians remaining in Kuwait under difficult circumstances had so far met with only limited success.
"According to the report, 2.8 million registered Palestine refugees were living in the Agency's five field operations, with access to UNRWA schools and training centres, health centres and specialist clinics, and basic food and clothing when they had no resources of their own. Socio-economic conditions for most Palestinian refugees in Lebanon remained precarious, as a consequence of the overall weakness of the Lebanese economy. In Jordan, the absorption of large numbers of unemployed persons, including many Palestinian returnees from the Gulf States, posed a big challenge to the economy. With 1.07 million registered persons, Jordan continued to host the largest number of Palestinian refugees in the Agency's five field operations. The Agency's operations in Syria continued to function well, with no major problems, the report says.
"In addition to its regular activities in Lebanon and the occupied territory, UNRWA continued a programme of extraordinary measures to alleviate the difficulties experienced by the refugee community in the context of the
and the Israeli response. The emergency measures included food distribution, cash assistance, the operation of afternoon medical clinics and the provision of large quantities of self-learning materials for elementary and school pupils.
"The report on the
financial situation of UNRWA
(document A/48/13/Add.13) states that the Agency was left with a deficit of $2.6 million in 1992, reducing the working capital reserve from $33.7 million to $31.1 million. The financial prospects for 1993 were unfavourable owing to the fact that the growth of contributions was not keeping pace with the growing number of beneficiaries. The Agency's total regular budget for the biennium 1994-1995 amounts to $632.3 million, compared to the 1992-1993 approved budget of $572 million.
"The report of the Working Group on the
financing of UNRWA
(document A/48/554) states that the Agency ended the first year of the 1992-1993 biennium with a deficit of $10.2 million in its programmes. The working capital is only sufficient to cover expenditures for the Agency's regular operations for about five or six weeks.
"The Secretary-General's report on the
revenues derived from Palestine refugee
(document A/48/275) provides information on his efforts for the protection and administration of Arab property, assets and property rights in Israel and to establish a fund for the receipt of income derived from it, on behalf of the rightful owners, as requested by General Assembly resolution 47/69 H, which also deplores Israel's refusal to cooperate with the Secretary-General. The report includes Israel's position, which among other things, states that the resolution demonstrates the sponsors' misuse of the General Assembly for the goals of the ongoing propaganda against it.
"The report of the
United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine
(document A/48/474) states that the Commission had been unable to find means of achieving progress in implementing a 1948 Assembly resolution which called for Palestine refugees to be given the choice between peaceful repatriation and compensation. The circumstances that had limited its possibilities of action had remained essentially unchanged.
"The Secretary-General's report on
grants and scholarships for higher
including vocational training for Palestine refugees
(document A/48/372) states that Japan, Switzerland, Iran and the Netherlands offered scholarships to Palestine refugee students through UNRWA's university scholarship programme. During the 1992-1993 academic year, UNESCO awarded 13 scholarships to Palestinian students from its regular programme and budget, and four scholarships under its Participation Programme.
"The Secretary-General's report on
Palestine refugees in the territory
occupied by Israel since 1967
(document A/48/373) states that the Israeli authorities have continued to demolish and seal refugee shelters in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank on punitive grounds. No new plots of land in housing projects in the Gaza Strip were allocated by the Israeli authorities for refugees living in camps.
"The report says that the Secretary-General is unable at present to comply with the General Assembly request contained in resolution 47/69 E of 14 December 1992 asking him to resume issuing identification cards to all Palestine refugees and their descendants in the occupied territory.
"A note verbale of the Permanent Representative of Israel dated 15 June contained in the report states that the request of the Secretary-General to resume issuing identity cards was `yet another indication of the resolution's patent political bias'. He states that the resolution is `unbalanced and distorted' as it intentionally ignores `the improved living conditions in the Gaza district since 1967'.
"Since 1967, Israel has initiated community development projects in the Gaza district enabling some 20,000 families, approximately 150,000 people, to leave the refugee camps on a voluntary basis and relocate to nearby residential areas. Israel's vital role in planning and implementing these housing projects has been recognized by both the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner in their respective reports.
"In the report on the
resumption of ration distribution to Palestine
(document A/48/374), the Secretary-General states that the Agency has continued to provide food assistance to the most needy sector of the refugee population, who numbered 179,397 persons in December 1992. It is also continuing the emergency distribution of basic commodities, such as flour, rice, sugar, animal protein and skim milk to those in need, including non-registered Palestinians in the occupied territory and Lebanon. However, due to the lack of additional resources, the Agency could not consider the resumption of a general distribution of basic food rations to all refugees.
"The Secretary-General's report on the
return of population and refugees
displaced since 1967
(document A/48/375) states that 12,740 displaced registered refugees are known to have returned to the occupied territories since June 1967. The Agency is, however, unable to estimate the total number of displaced inhabitants, as it only kept records of registered refugees and did not always have complete information on the location of registered refugees.
"The Secretary-General's report on the
protection of Palestine refugees
(document A/48/376) is in pursuance of a General Assembly resolution in 1992 calling upon Israel to desist from acts of aggression against the Lebanese and Palestinian population in Lebanon and demanding the release of Palestinian refugees and UNRWA employees.
"In a note verbale dated 15 June 1993, the Permanent Representative of Israel states that the resolution on the protection of Palestine refugees was `hypocritical, anachronistic and out of place'. Despite Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in 1985, the resolution still blames Israel for the `suffering' of the Palestinian Arabs in Lebanon, the note states.
"The report says UNRWA has continued to play an important role in helping to reduce tensions, to prevent maltreatment of the refugees and to assist them in coping with the quotidian difficulties under occupation. It has also protested to the Israeli authorities against excessive use of force, collective punishments, punitive demolitions, sealing of shelters and other such measures, as a failure on the part of the Israeli authorities to uphold standards required under international humanitarian law.
"In the report on the protection of
Palestinian students and educational
institutions and safeguarding UNRWA facilities in the occupied territory
(document A/48/377), the Secretary-General reports on the follow up of a 1992 resolution of the General Assembly. The resolution condemned repeated Israeli raids on UNRWA facilities and deplored Israel's policies that have led to the prolonged closure of educational and vocational institutions, a large number of which are operated by the Agency, and the repeated disruption of medical services.
"The report says that for the period 1 July 1992 to 30 June 1993, there were 263 cases of unauthorized entry into UNRWA premises in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip by the Israeli authorities. In the same period, 22 students and trainees at UNRWA educational institutions were killed and 1,116 injured by the Israeli authorities. Those casualties were attributable to beatings, tear-gas inhalation, rubber bullets and live ammunition.
"At the end of March 1993, the closure by the Israeli authorities of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip from Israel and East Jerusalem adversely affected the number of trainees and staff who were able to attend the training centres. A preliminary analysis of achievement tests administered by UNRWA on students at the beginning of the academic year showed `a detrimental effect on the educational performance of students'.
"The Secretary-General's report on
establishing a University of
(document A/48/431) says that a feasibility study was needed before an arts and science university for Palestine refugees could be established under the auspices of the United Nations. A highly qualified expert had been selected to visit the area and meet with the competent Israeli officials.
"The Permanent Representative of Israel says, in a letter to the Secretary-General, that the proposed visit of the expert to Israel `would not serve any useful purpose'."
III. EXCERPT FROM COMMUNIQUÉ OF THE MEETING OF MINISTERS FOR
FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND HEADS OF DELEGATION OF THE
MOVEMENT OF NON-ALIGNED COUNTRIES TO THE FORTY-EIGHTH
SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, HELD AT
UNITED NATIONS HEADQUARTERS ON 4 OCTOBER 1993
"The Ministers and Heads of Delegation considered the recent developments concerning the question of Palestine and took note of the momentous event of 13 September 1993. They regarded the signing of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-government Arrangements between the Palestine Liberation Organization and the government of Israel, as a positive step. In this regard, they reaffirmed that this step should lead expeditiously to a comprehensive, just and lasting solution on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242, 338 and 425, and the full withdrawal of Israel from all the occupied Arab territories, including Jerusalem. They remain unflinching in their resolve to support the Palestinian people in their quest to achieve their inalienable rights including their right to establish a sovereign independent State on their own national territory. They reaffirmed the permanent responsibility of the United Nations towards the question of Palestine and stressed the need for an effective and broad role of the United Nations in implementing the agreement and in providing all kinds of assistance to the Palestinian people." (See A/48/484-S/26552, para. 3)
IV. EXCERPT FROM DECLARATION OF THE MINISTERS FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
OF THE GROUP OF 77 ADOPTED AT THE SEVENTEENTH ANNUAL MEETING
HELD AT NEW YORK ON 5 OCTOBER 1993
"The Ministers considered the recent development concerning the question of Palestine and took note of the momentous event of 13 September 1993. They regarded the signing of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements between the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Government of Israel as an important first step. In this regard, they reaffirmed that this important step should lead to the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East based on Security Council resolutions 242, 338, 425 and on the formula of `Land for Peace'.
"The Ministers reaffirmed their support of the Palestinian people as they strive to attain their inalienable rights, including the right to establish an independent State on the Palestinian occupied territory, including Arab Jerusalem. They also reaffirmed the permanent responsibility of the United Nations towards the Question of Palestine. The Ministers called upon the international community, especially the developed countries, the United Nations and multilateral finance and development institutions, to fully support the implementation of the agreement in all possible ways. In this regard, they welcomed the recent initial commitments made." (See A/48/485, paras. 74-75)
V. EXCERPT FROM COMMUNIQUE OF THE MEETING OF THE
HEADS OF GOVERNMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH COUNTRIES,
CYPRUS, 21-25 OCTOBER 1993
"Reviewing international developments in relation to the Middle East, Heads of Government welcomed the signing on 13 September 1993 of the Declaration of Principles by the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization as representing an historic contribution to advancing reconciliation, peace and security in the region. They expressed the hope that the momentum for peace would be sustained and that negotiations involving all parties in the Middle East would lead to a just and comprehensive settlement in the interest of all the people of the region." (See A/48/564)
VI. UNRWA COMMISSIONER-GENERAL ANNOUNCES PEACE IMPLEMENTATION PROGRAMME:
EUROPEAN COMMUNITY BREAKS GROUND FOR NEW HOSPITAL IN GAZA STRIP
The following press release was issued by UNRWA on 7 October 1993 (See PAL/1805):
"The Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Ilter Türkmen, announced at a meeting here yesterday the introduction of a major new agency initiative, the peace implementation programme, to support the Middle East peace process.
"The Commissioner-General, in remarks to the UNRWA's Advisory Commission, said that the programme's priorities were to enhance the social and economic lives of Palestine refugees in the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the coming months and included construction as well as social development projects. He reported that the Agency was already moving ahead with major construction projects which will improve services and infrastructure and create employment. While that major initiative was being launched, Mr. Türkmen said that `current services should not suffer and that gaps in existing services should be filled as soon as possible'.
"The Agency could take quick action on a number of fronts, Mr. Türkmen said. Additional staff in education and health could improve services by reducing overcrowding in schools and decreasing patient-to-doctor ratios. New schools and health clinics could be built and others could be refurbished. The Commissioner-General said that new financing was needed to launch comprehensive shelter rehabilitation and reconstruction for about 7,000 families in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
"Mr. Türkmen announced that he would join a senior representative of the European Community at the ground-breaking ceremony of the Gaza General Hospital on 18 October. The Commissioner-General also identified as Agency priorities enterprise development through business loans and graduate training programmes.
"`The Gaza Strip is suffering from almost unimaginable environmental degradation which affects not only the health of the people, but also the very future of Gaza itself', the Commissioner-General said. He reported that a team of international experts had recently completed their assessment of the needs in that sector and that the Agency would soon complete feasibility studies for action which would be presented to donors for implementation.
"Mr. Türkmen reported that the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Yasser Arafat, during their meeting last week in Tunis, said that the UNRWA should expand its activities, as well as carry on its traditional role. The UNRWA had established good working contacts with the World Bank, the Commissioner-General told Commission members. The Agency had been invited to second two of its staff to the World Bank Mission, which would arrive in Jerusalem on 11 October to begin a three-week study on emergency short-term assistance and a long-term plan for the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
"While the international focus was now on the occupied territory, the Commissioner-General said that the needs of refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria must not be neglected and vigorous efforts to improve their living conditions needed to be made. He reported that the UNRWA's projected $28.5 million cash shortfall at the beginning of 1993 had been reduced to an estimated $4 million, as a result of austerity measures, administrative savings and additional contributions, and he was optimistic that, in the new atmosphere, further funds would be forthcoming.
"The UNRWA Advisory Commission, composed of 10 Governments, and chaired by Ambassador Kunisada Kume of Japan, yesterday expressed the hope that recent developments would usher in a new era in the region. In a formal letter addressed to the Commissioner-General, the Advisory Commission emphasized that it was `imperative that a significant improvement in the social and welfare services and the daily life of the Palestinians in the occupied territories be achieved as a matter of urgency'."
On 18 October 1993, UNRWA issued the following press release:
"A major construction project for a 232-bed hospital in the Gaza Strip was launched in Gaza today by the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Ilter Türkmen, and the representative of the European Community to the occupied territories, Tomas Dupla del Moral.
"Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony near Khan Younis, Mr. Türkmen said that UNRWA was `keenly aware of the urgent need for better health services in Gaza as well as the poor quality and limited capacity of available hospital resources, with a bed/patient ratio of 1.1 per 1,000', as compared with the World Health organization (WHO) minimum of 2 beds per 1,000 persons. The new hospital will increase the number of available hospital beds in Gaza by 25 per cent.
"`Without the European Community's generous contribution towards the construction costs of the hospital, the project would not have seen the light of day', the Commissioner-General said. The construction costs alone will be over $20 million.
"In addition to the services which will be available once the hospital has been commissioned, the construction and finishing phase will provide jobs to about 1,000 persons directly or indirectly. About 600 employees will work in the hospital after its completion. `The project is not only related to health care, but also to income-generation and job creation at a very depressed time in the economy of the Gaza Strip and is a good example of the international effort to support the peace process', Mr. Türkmen said.
"Mr. Dupla del Moral said the occasion was the first time following the Israeli-Palestine Liberation Organization Declaration of Principles `when international solidarity with Gaza happens on the ground, not with words but with deeds. The UNRWA has become one of the most important pillars of the Palestinian community. This is nowhere more visible than in Gaza'.
"During his remarks to over 300 guests who attended the ceremony, the Commissioner-General stressed that `this hospital is being built in response to the needs of the Palestinian community and is the product of close involvement of the Palestinians. It is their hospital. They are building it and they will administer it'. Mr. Türkmen thanked some European Community member countries which have pledged funds directly to UNRWA for the new hospital as well as other donors which have also responded generously.
"Dr. Haider Abdul Shafi, President of the Red Crescent Society in the Gaza Strip, paid tribute to UNRWA during the groundbreaking ceremony. `I know that this new hospital would not have been possible had it not been for the sincere and continuous efforts by the Commissioner-General and his staff to try and pave the ground to make this project a reality', he said.
"Dr. Riad Za'noun, Director of the Palestinian Health Council in the Gaza Strip, said that the new hospital was the first to be built in Gaza in 25 years and thanked UNRWA and the European Community for their efforts to improve health services in Gaza. Khader Fahmi Abu Sha'ban, Director of the Islamic Waqf Department in the Gaza Strip, which has leased the land on which the hospital is being built to UNRWA, also attended today's ceremony.
"During the ceremony, the Commissioner-General pointed out that UNRWA is currently upgrading its health infrastructure and programmes in the Gaza Strip, especially in primary health care, in coordination with the Palestinians. The new hospital will be part of a network in which the Agency's health clinics and other services will play an important role."
VII. NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS: ACTIVITIES AND INFORMATION
In the course of October, the following information was received by the Division for Palestinian Rights:
Monthly Human Rights Report
, published by Stephen Bowen and Raji Sourani, Gaza Centre for Rights and Law. Available from: Gaza Centre for Rights and Law, Iman Building, Rimal, P.O. Box 1274, Gaza Strip.
La Paix en Mouvement
, article on Palestine available in September/ October issue. Available from: 139, Boulevard Victor Hugo, F-93-400 Saint Ouen, CCP 780-56 Z, France.
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
, available from: The American Educational Trust, P.O. Box 53062, Washington, D.C. 20009, United States of America.
, publication of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Available from: 4201 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 500, Washington, D.C. 20008, United States of America.
Israel and Palestine Political Report
devoted to "The Israel-PLO Accord - A New Era", available from: Magelan and Association Mashdek Développement, ISSN 0294 1341, Boite Postale 130, 75463 Paris CEDEX 10, France.
The Middle East
, monthly publication available from: IC Publications Ltd., 7 Coldbath Square, London EC1R 4LQ, United Kingdom.
Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding
, briefing paper entitled "From Shamir to Rabin: What chance for peace?", available from: 21, Collingham Road, London SW5 ONV, United Kingdom.
Middle East International
, biweekly publication, available from: P.O. Box 53365, Temple Heights Station, Washington, D.C. 20009, United States of America.
The Other Front
, weekly bulletin on developments in Israeli society, available from: The Alternative Information Centre, P.O. Box 24278, Jerusalem.
The Other Israel
, newsletter of the Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, available from: P.O. Box 2542, Holon, Israel 58125.
"Surveillance and Defamation, Arab-American Political Rights in Times of Crisis
", special report of the Arab-American Institute, available from: 918 Sixteenth Street, N.W., Suite 601, Washington, D.C. 20077-2505.
Samed, Palestinian Prison Voices
, Mandela Institute for Political Prisoners, available from: P.O. Box 19543, Jerusalem, Israel.
, quarterly publication by the Alternative Information Centre, P.O. Box 31417, Jerusalem.
News from Within
, newsletter of the Alternative Information Center, P.O. Box 31417, Jerusalem, Vol. IX, No. 9 containing an article on "The Oslo Agreement".
15. North American Coordinating Committee for NGOs on the Question of Palestine (NACC),
The Fax Tree
, "Special Report on Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles", available from: NACC, 1747 Connecticut Avenue, NW Washington, D.C. 20009.
16. Palestine Human Rights Information Center (PHRIC) of the Arab Studies Society, "PHRIC Statement: Human Rights Issues After the Agreement on the Declaration of Principles", available from: PHRIC, P.O. Box 20479, Jerusalem.
- - - - -