Press Releases

    24 May 2005

    UNRWA Protests Armed Violation of Its Premises and Threats to Its Staff

    (Reissued as received.)

    GAZA, 23 May (UNRWA) -- On 18 May, three armed and hooded men entered the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) clinic in the Far’a Refugee camp.  Using threats and intimidation, they forced an UNRWA doctor to leave the clinic and instructed him that he was never to return.

    While leaving the building, and still in the clinic yard, the three gunmen fired several bullets in the air causing great distress to staff and patients at the clinic, including large numbers of young children.

    The three men then proceeded to the girls’ school in the camp where they paraded through the school compound, terrifying the students.  They then threatened the school principal and demanded that a teacher be barred from the school.

    The UNRWA views these threatening and dangerous actions with grave concern.  The Agency’s mandate is to render humanitarian assistance to Palestine refugees.  Any interference by armed force in the operation of its mandate is absolutely unacceptable and will not be tolerated.  Aggressive action by gunmen will not be allowed to dictate how the Agency does its work or who to hire and fire from its staff.

    The interference of these gunmen is in violation of UNRWA’s privileges and immunities as part of the United Nations and constitutes a breach of the agreement signed by UNRWA and the Palestinian Authority, which ensures the protection and security of the personnel, installations and property of the Agency.  The UNRWA will request that the Palestinian Authority investigate and take action against those who carried out these acts of intimidation.

    To register its protest and underscore the Agency’s concern about the safety of its staff, the UNRWA clinic in Far’a camp will close its doors for on hour on Tuesday, 24 May (10 a.m. – 11 a.m.).

          For more information, call Sami Mshasha on +972 (0)2 589 0408.

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