HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY MARIE OKABE
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

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NEW SECURITY MEASURES HAMPER AID DELIVERY IN GAZA

  • The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) today reports that the humanitarian situation in Gaza remains very difficult.
     
  • According to UNRWA, the Israeli authorities have introduced new security measures – mainly for sugar and flour – which are hampering the delivery of aid. The agency did manage to get three truckloads of powdered milk in today, but it had been hoping for 9. In addition, an expected truckload of medicines never made it through.
     
  • On a positive note, however, UNRWA did receive materials today that will allow it to continue its food distributions.
     
  • Regarding fuel, UNRWA says only 200,000 liters went to the main power plant in Gaza today. An additional 750,000 liters went yesterday. This falls well short of the 2.2 million liters promised by the Israeli authorities. If the current fuel levels continue, the power plant may shut down by the end of the week, UNRWA adds.
     
  • Asked about reports that thousands of Gaza residents have traveled across the Rafah crossing today into Egypt, the Spokeswoman said that the incident underscores how serious and fragile the situation in Gaza remains at this moment.
     
  • She noted that on Tuesday, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe had expressed his detailed concerns over the situation, including his call for regular and unimpeded delivery of fuel and other basic necessities.
     
  • She added that, at the press conference in Geneva today, the Secretary-General was asked about the situation in Gaza and the Rafah crossing. He said it was a very serious situation, and that he was deeply concerned.
     
  • Okabe added that the Secretary-General said that he had taken his own efforts to address the issue, to help ease the tensions as well as the humanitarian suffering of the people in Gaza. He said he had spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert just before departing New York, and  had urged him strongly to ease the restrictions on the crossing and to provide the necessary fuel.
     
  • The Spokeswoman added that the Secretary-General called on the parties to resolve outstanding issues peacefully through dialogue. He said he hoped Israel did not pursue the collective punishment of the general public, and also called for a halt to rocket fire against Israel.

 

HUMAN RIGHTS DIMENSION OF ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT
 MUST BE ADDRESSED

  • Today in Geneva, the Human Rights Council began a special session on the occupied Palestinian territory. A draft resolution is being considered. The session is expected to continue into tomorrow.
     
  • Addressing the special session today, High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said that, unless broader steps were taken, both by the parties to the conflict and by the international community, the situation for Palestinians and Israelis could only continue to deteriorate. All parties concerned should put an end to the vicious spiral of violence before it becomes unstoppable, she said.
     
  • Arbour stressed that the international community must intensify its efforts to ensure that the human rights dimension of the conflict is properly addressed, regardless of the development of a political settlement. She said it is imperative that Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas respect the long-standing international legal obligations to which they are bound. We have her full remarks upstairs.

SECURITY COUNCIL WILL MEET ON SITUATION IN GAZA
AFTER EXTENDING U.N. MISSION IN NEPAL

  • The Security Council this morning extended by six months the mandate of the UN Mission in Nepal.
     
  • Then, at 3:00 this afternoon, the Security Council resumed consultations on the Middle East, to continue discussions on a draft Presidential Statement concerning the situation in Gaza.

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Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
United Nations, S-378
New York, NY 10017
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