Press Releases

    24 April 2002


    (Reissued as received.)

    JERUSALEM, 23 April (UNRWA) -- The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has protested to the Israeli military authorities after they prevented a UN convoy of urgently-needed humanitarian aid from leaving Nablus today that was destined for the West Bank city of Qalqilya. The relief convoy, which contained flour, sugar, rice and lentils was to aid the many Palestinian refugees left homeless or needy by the recent Israeli incursions and curfews.

    Peter Hansen, UNRWA's Commissioner General, visited Nablus today following the lifting of the Israeli military curfew on the town. Mr. Hansen witnessed the extensive destruction done to the Old City, or Nablus Casbah, and talked with residents who described to him what they had endured during the intensive fighting there in the first week of April.

    The people of Nablus are now trying to clear up the damage caused to their community, and many are still digging for the bodies of missing family members. Because of the narrow alleys of the Casbah, heavy lifting machinery is unable to get to the scenes of the worst destruction.

    "Despite all the urgent needs we are facing in Jenin we must not forget the situation in places like Nablus. More than 80 bodies have been recovered from the recent fighting and the Israeli incursion has caused serious damage to both people and their property. It is very sad to see the damage done to the beautiful old buildings of the Casbah, it feels very much like the Nablus incursion has torn a hole through the heart of Palestinian heritage."

    Mr. Hansen also visited Balata and Askar camps near Nablus and saw the damage done to refugee shelters and UNRWA installations. The UNRWA schools in Askar were badly damaged by gunfire and explosive charges used by the Israeli Defence Forces to blow open doors. Askar Boys' School was also used as a detention and operations centre by the Israeli Defence Forces, despite the repeated protests of UNRWA that such practices constitute a violation of Israel's agreements with UNRWA.

    For more information contact: Sami Mshasha on 050 317 094 or Paul McCann on 050 441 405.

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