Press Releases

    5 April 2002


    Whereabouts of UNRWA Staff Member Arrested
    Two Days Ago by Israeli Soldiers Remains Unknown

    JERUSALEM, 4 April (UNRWA) -- Peter Hansen, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), has strongly urged the Israeli Government to heed calls for immediate withdrawal of their forces from refugee camps and other populated areas in the occupied Palestinian territory. His call follows the assault by Israeli troops on Jenin camp and the besieging and heavy shelling of other camps in the West Bank, particularly Balata and Askar camps in the Nablus area of the West Bank, and Dheisheh in the Bethlehem area.

    UNRWA field reports speak of unprecedented levels of destruction of shelters and other buildings in Jenin camp, with at least six camp residents killed and scores injured. Heavy shelling by Israeli tanks and Apache gunships has been reported. All attempts to evacuate the wounded from the camp have been turned down by the Israeli Defence Force.

    Mr. Hansen said: "I am deeply distressed by the unfolding tragedy in the refugee camps and other localities in the West Bank. Palestinian refugees are being killed and maimed by the use of heavy armament. We are facing a humanitarian crisis of very serious proportions in the camps."

    Richard Cook, UNRWA’s Director of Operations in the West Bank, reported that "Refugees from Jenin, Balata and Dheisheh and staff besieged in the various towns and villages of the West Bank have informed me about the unfolding tragic situation. Many people were reported killed or injured and cannot be buried or treated. People I talked to were pleading for help. Judging from reports from our own staff and from the refugees themselves, there is an urgent need for medical teams, for the cessation of shelling and the delivery of basic humanitarian assistance."

    The UNRWA was able to deliver badly needed medical and food assistance in the past few days in Hebron and Ramallah and in Aida refugee camp. Emergency food and medicine distribution continue, despite great difficulty in accessing stricken areas and the real personal danger posed to our staff entrusted with the delivery of emergency assistance.

    On a related matter, UNRWA’s relentless efforts with the Israeli authorities to locate the exact place in which its staff member, Yousef Eideh, is being held, have yielded no results. The Israeli authorities maintain that they cannot identify where our staff member is being held. Mr. Eideh, an emergency relief worker with UNRWA, was arrested two days ago after he, along with other United Nations staff members, successfully delivered badly needed medicine and food items to Ramallah Hospital. The UNRWA is concerned about Mr. Eideh’s personal safety and demands that the Israeli authorities inform the Agency as to his whereabouts and release him immediately.

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