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Urgent Call for End to Middle East Violence

UN Official Issues Urgent Call for End to Middle East Violence

New York, Aug 4 2006 10:00AM

The head of the United Nations Fund for Women (UNIFEM) has called for an urgent end to the spiraling Middle East violence, emphasizing that women should be part of a political settlement.

UNIFEM Executive Director Noeleen Heyzer, International Women's Commission for a Just and Sustainable Palestinian-Israeli Peace (IWC), issued a statement on Thursday calling for an immediate cessation to the hostilities and the protection of civilians.

“The bombing of cities, roads and water systems unfortunately targets civilians — they are the ones who cannot hide, cannot escape and cannot defend themselves,” she said. “They invariably include large numbers of women and their children. Every day we see this in Lebanon, as bombs hit those trying to flee, buildings collapse on those hiding in basements afraid to leave home.”

She called for an end to attacks, a ceasefire, and protection measures. The international community must then make a serious and concerted effort to ensure the longer-term security of all of the region’s people. She noted that the political vacuum resulting from the lack of a sovereign Palestinian State “is fuelling the violence and empowering those with no stake in the peace process.”

She warned that if the violence continues, there is a threat of regional escalation and total political collapse. She called for a negotiated, two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict involving all stakeholders, including those on both sides who are reaching across borders to call for such a solution. “Among them also must be women, who are critical to all aspects of peacebuilding and security,” she said.

“This may be the last chance to bring about a sustainable peace for all people in the region.”


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