New York

23 July 2014

Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on weapons at UNRWA school in Gaza

The Secretary-General is alarmed to hear that rockets were placed in an UNRWA school in Gaza and that subsequently these have gone missing. He expresses his outrage, and regret, at the placing of weapons in a UN-administered school. By doing so, those responsible are turning schools into potential military targets, and endangering the lives of innocent children, UN employees working in such facilities, and anyone using the UN schools as shelter.

The Secretary-General notes that this is inconsistent with UN Security Council Resolution 1860 (2009), which calls for the prevention of arms smuggling. He demands that militants groups, who are responsible must stop such actions and should be held accountable for endangering the lives of civilians in this manner.

The Secretary-General has asked for a full review of such incidents and how the UN responds in such instances. The United Nations is taking concerted action to increase its vigilance in preventing such episodes from happening again. To this end, the Secretary-General has directed the UN Department of Safety and Security (DSS) and the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) to immediately develop and implement an effective security plan for the safe and secure handling of any weapons discovered in UN premises. Further, he has directed UNMAS to immediately deploy personnel with expertise to deal with this situation.

The Secretary-General calls on all of those who have any influence over militant groups to send an unmistakable message that this is unacceptable.

Finally, the Secretary-General expresses his full support for the tremendous work of the staff of UNRWA, who continue to operate under deeply challenging circumstances.