United Nations Seminar on Assistance to Palestinian People — ‘Speeding up Relief, Recovery and Reconstruction in Post-War Gaza’ — in Vienna, 31 March-1 April

GA/PAL/1326
24 March 2015

United Nations Seminar on Assistance to Palestinian People — ‘Speeding up Relief, Recovery and Reconstruction in Post-War Gaza’ — in Vienna, 31 March-1 April

NEW YORK, 24 March (Division for Palestinian Rights) — The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People will convene the United Nations Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People at the United Nations Office in Vienna (Vienna International Centre) in Boardroom D of Building C on 31 March and 1 April.  The theme of the Seminar is “Speeding up relief, recovery and reconstruction in post-war Gaza”.

The Seminar will review the pressing immediate and longer-term humanitarian and development needs in the Gaza Strip, and in particular, Gaza’s severe housing, fuel, power, environmental and water crises, which greatly intensified in the wake of the war of 2014.  Some 100,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, while power cuts of up to 18 hours a day are commonplace.  The Seminar aims at strengthening cooperation between all parties involved in efforts towards Gaza’s reconstruction and economic development:  the Palestinian Government, intergovernmental organizations, including the United Nations, key donors, as well as the private sector.  It will also strive to identify the obstacles to Gaza’s recovery and reconstruction.

The opening session, on 31 March, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., will be addressed by Yury Fedotov, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna, representing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, Director-General for development cooperation at the Austrian Foreign Ministry; Fodé Seck, Chair of the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People; and Mamoun Abdul Hadi Hassan Abu Shahla, Minister for Labour, representing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Plenary I, on the “Immediate and longer-term humanitarian needs in the Gaza Strip” following the conflict in 2014, will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. on 31 March.  It will tackle housing damage, internally displaced persons, infrastructure, food insecurity, unemployment and the situation of women and children.  Expected speakers include Palestinian Labour Minister Shahla; Kathleen Maes, Head of the Gaza Office of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs; Ahmed Sourani, Resilience Development Adviser with Oxfam in Gaza; Eva Pilipp of the Society for Austro-Arab Relations, who just returned from Gaza; Robert Turner, Director of Gaza operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and John Gatt-Rutter, the European Union’s representative to the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and UNRWA.

The first part of Plenary II, on “Looking ahead:  prioritizing reconstruction tasks” will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on 31 March and will be devoted to Gaza’s severe energy deficit, with a focus on alternative energy sources and off-shore gas.  Expected speakers include Michael Neuwirth, focal point on energy at the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator in Jerusalem; Simon Henderson, Director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at the Washington Institute, who will speak on the Gaza off-shore gas field; and Haitham Ghanem of the Sunshine4Palestine Association, who comes from Gaza and will speak on solar energy.

Plenary II will resume on 1 April at 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will address water, desalination, wastewater, infrastructure and the blockade.  Expected speakers include June Kunugi, special representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which is the lead United Nations agency on water in Palestine;  Minister Shaddad Attili, lead Palestinian negotiator in charge of water and environmental issues and former head of the Palestinian Water Authority;  Fuad Bateh, Senior Adviser for environment and water of the Union for the Mediterranean, who will address the need for a large-scale Gaza desalination plant; and Geoffrey Aronson, former Director of Research and Publications of the Foundation for Middle East Peace in Washington, D.C., who will present ideas on a Gaza seaport.

Plenary III, on “Strengthening cooperation by all parties to provide relief, promote reconstruction and reignite economic development”, will focus on the role of the Government of the State of Palestine and of international institutions and donors and will take place from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on 1 April.  The sub-themes of the session will be “National early recovery and reconstruction plan for Gaza”, “Role of the United Nations and its system entities” and the “Role of intergovernmental organizations and key donors”.  Expected speakers include Mohammad Shtayyeh, President of the Palestinian Economic Council for Research and Development and Senior Adviser to President Abbas; Frode Mauring, Head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People; Nasser Qatami, Palestinian Deputy-Minister of Labour; and Rachid Bencherif, Head of the Grants Unit of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Fund for International Development.

The closing session, on 1 April from 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., will be addressed by a representative of the State of Palestine and the Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

All sessions of the Seminar will be open to the media.  The official languages will be Arabic, English, French and Spanish.

A press conference will be held on 31 March, at a time and location to be posted online at the web link below, and will include Mr. Seck, Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People; Palestinian Labour Minister Shahla; Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations in New York; and Mr. Shtayyeh, President of the Palestinian Economic Council for Research and Development.  Requests for individual interviews should be directed to dpr-meeting@un.org.

Updated versions of the programme, documents, electronic versions of presentations and information on the press conference, as well as information on previous meetings, will be available on the website of the Division for Palestinian Rights, United Nations Secretariat, at www.un.org/depts/dpa/qpal/calendar.htm.  Please contact the Seminar Secretariat at dpr-meeting@un.org for additional information.

The summary of the Committee Chair on the outcomes of the Seminar will be available at the above link shortly after the Seminar finalizes its work.  The full report on Seminar proceedings will be issued, in due course, as a publication of the Division for Palestinian Rights.

For information media. Not an official record.