Press Releases

    3 April 2002


    (Reissued as received.)

    GAZA, 2 April (UNRWA) -- The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), has expressed deep concern at the worsening humanitarian situation in the West Bank following the Israeli military assaults on Ramallah, Bethlehem, Tulkarm and Qalqilya.

    A three-hour break in the curfew on Ramallah today (Tuesday) has allowed the Agency to deliver urgently needed supplies of food and medicine to Ramallah Hospital. However, scores of the Agency’s staff and thousands of refugees throughout the area of operations remain trapped with dwindling supplies of water, food and medicine.

    The UNRWA has been providing medical supplies for the Palestine Red Crescent Society and is attempting to supply medicines to the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Health. The Agency also has 3,000 tinned food parcels on standby and will attempt to reach several areas of Ramallah and other parts of the West Bank tomorrow.

    As part of a collective United Nations effort, UNRWA is trying to get supplies into a kindergarten adjacent to the Palestinian Security headquarters in Beitunia, which is under siege by the Israeli Defence Force, but has been prevented from doing so by heavy firing. The Agency is also working to help secure the release of the women and children who are reportedly trapped inside the compound.

    A number of UNRWA employees are believed to have been held in detention by the Israeli Defence Force in its sweeps through the West Bank. The Agency is trying to determine how many of its staff have been detained and will begin to work for their release.

    Peter Hansen, Commissioner General of UNRWA, said: "The alarming military incursions in the West Bank are causing us deep concern for the welfare of our staff, the refugees and the many innocent civilians killed or wounded by the fighting. There are reports that 25,000 people in the Ramallah area are without water. Bodies are piling up in hospitals, and medicines are in short supply. The UNRWA urgently needs free and unfettered access to the area to be able to carry out its urgently needed humanitarian work."

    For more information, contact: In Gaza: Paul McCann on 059 428 008 or Ros Young on 059 428 015; in Jerusalem: Sami Mshasha on 050 317 094.

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