27 January 2009

Marie Heuzé, the Director of the United Nations Information Service in Geneva, chaired the briefing which was also attended by Spokespersons for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the International Labour Organization and the United Nations Refugee Agency.


Situation in Gaza

Dorothea Krimitsas of the International Committee of the Red Cross said that one-month after the beginning of the conflict in Gaza, emergency aid was definitely still very much needed and still not sufficient to build an environment which would enable the people there to live a dignified life. The ICRC was still carrying out emergency assistance; some of their health personnel were still present in Gaza. They were also continuing to conduct assessments in hospitals and provided the Ministry of Health stores with medicines and various equipments. They also continued to escort Palestinian technicians to conduct repairs at wastewater treatment plants and on the electrical infrastructures in the Gaza Strip. The ICRC and Palestinian Red Crescent teams had also continued to carry out assessments throughout the Gaza Strip and according to their findings to date, 650 houses had been partially destroyed and 884 totally destroyed. Various aid equipment had been distributed to up to 30’000 people.

Answering to a journalist who asked whether the ICRC had now more freedom of movement and had more luck to cross the borders into Gaza, Ms. Krimitsas said that it changed from day-to-day and they still had sometimes difficulties to get into Gaza.

Ms. Marie Heuzé said that the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs continued to assess the global needs for the reconstruction in Gaza.

Ms. Elisabeth Byrs of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that the United Nations appeal for Gaza was of US$ 530 million and US$ 105 million had been received until now. Another US$ 2 million had been promised but had not been received yet. Also, John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator would give a press conference on the situation in Gaza on Monday 2 February 2009 in Geneva.