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Gaza: UN Calls On Israel To Ensure Its Staff Safe

UN Agency Calls On Israel To Lift Restrictions And Ensure Safety Of Its Staff In Gaza

With the latest large-scale military operations by Israel severely disrupting its work, the United Nations agency assisting Palestinian refugees today called on the Government to allow its staff in Gaza to move about freely and to lift restrictions that inhibit their work.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said Israel’s military operations have in effect tri-sected the Gaza Strip, forcing it to suspend many of its normal operations, including the resumption of much needed emergency food aid.

“The conditions under which my staff are working expose them to unacceptable levels of risk,” said the Agency’s chief, Commissioner-General Peter Hansen. “For UNRWA to continue to deliver essential services to the refugees, the Government of Israel must live up to its obligations under international law. It is crucial that it ensure both our freedom of movement and our safety.”

UNRWA said that nearly 1,200 staff and trainees, including nursing mothers, have not been able to return to their homes since Tuesday. “The restrictions on movement further obstruct the work of the Agency’s staff entrusted with supervising operations in the field of education and health,” it added.

The restrictions have also, in effect, barred Mr. Hansen from attending the annual meeting of the Agency’s Advisory Commission. “This unprecedented event was caused by the unwillingness of the Israeli authorities to enable him to cross safely into Israel to travel to the meeting’s venue in Amman, Jordan,” UNRWA said.

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