|REGULAR PRESS BRIEFING BY THE INFORMATION SERVICE|
20 June 2008
Marie Heuzé, the Director of the United Nations Information Service in Geneva, chaired the briefing which also heard from representatives of and spokespersons for the Global Humanitarian Forum Geneva, the World Meteorological Organization, the United Nations Works and Relief Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Far East, the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, the GAVI Alliance, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the World Trade Organization and the International Organization for Migration.
Palestinian Refugees in Nahr El Bared and Gaza Strip
Matthias Burchard of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East said that an international High-level Donor Conference on the Reconstruction and Recovery of the Nahr El Bared Palestine refugee camp and its surrounding area, situated in northern Lebanon, would take place in Vienna on Monday, 23 June. Seventy countries and international organizations had been invited to the conference, which was hosted by the Austrian Government, in cooperation with the Government of Lebanon, the European Commission and the Arab League. Thirty thousand Palestinian refugees and Lebanese became homeless in 2007 after heavy fighting broke out between the Lebanese Army and a terrorist group which had infiltrated the camp. The reconstruction of Nahr El Bared would be the largest project ever undertaken by UNRWA. It would require the building of a new town with houses, schools, health centers, mosques, other community facilities, a UN compound and associated infrastructure. The Lebanese Government and UNRWA were appealing for $ 445 million.
Mr. Burchard said tomorrow, UNRWA would be launching 10 weeks of Summer Games for 250,000 Gazan children and youth, with high-level community participation. In 324 locations throughout Gaza, UNRWA and its partners would provide educational and entertaining activities to enhance creativity, personal development and enjoyment, sports, gymnastics, arts and crafts, kite building and flying, swimming, ceremonies and festivals.
On the truce between Hamas and Israel, UNRWA’s Commissioner General, Karen AbuZayd, said she was cautiously delighted about the truce in Gaza, which so far seemed to be holding. She appealed to all concerned for it to continue. She hoped that UNRWA could now take for granted the consistent and adequate flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza and hoped that the problem of access for people could become a thing for the past.
Documentation on the Nahr El Bared reconstruction and an opinion editorial by UNRWA’s Commissioner General to mark World Refugee Day were available at the back of the room.