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UN Relief Chief Welcomes Israel-Gaza State Of Calm

UN relief chief welcomes Israel-Gaza cessation of violence

20 June 2008 - The head of the United Nations humanitarian wing today welcomed the announced cessation of violence between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes said in a statement that the cessation of violence "offers particular hope for the ordinary people of Gaza, who have so far borne the brunt of the problems, but also for people in southern Israel."

Mr. Holmes, who is also Emergency Relief Coordinator, said he hoped that the halt in violence will result in a rapid improvement of the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, where UN agencies currently provide assistance to more than three quarters of all households. Gaza is home to about 1.5 million people.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has reported that the situation inside Gaza has seriously deteriorated over the past year since Hamas took control of the area by force and Israel then imposed severe restrictions on the entry and exit of goods. A lack of raw materials and an inability to export foods has paralyzed economic activity almost entirely and increased Gaza's dependence on outside aid.

Mr. Holmes, whose statement echoes that of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday, added that he hoped the cessation of violence would lead to a sustained opening of the Gaza border crossings for both humanitarian and commercial reasons.

ENDS

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