World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 

18 UN agencies and NGOs protest Gaza closure

18 UN agencies and NGOs protest Gaza closure
UNRWA, Report, 19 May 2003

On 11 May 2003, the Israeli authorities closed the Erez crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip in both directions for internationals, except for holders of diplomatic visas or passports. The closure affects virtually all international staff of United Nations organisations, NGOs and other humanitarian and development agencies.

This move follows four weeks of increasingly severe restrictions that have seriously disrupted aid workers' freedom of movement and the distribution of humanitarian relief to 1.2 million Palestinians. On 17 May 2003, the Israeli authorities partially lifted the closure with respect to certain named staff of a few UN organizations, but not for all international staff of these organizations who need to cross Erez. The closure was also lifted for certain named staff of one humanitarian non-governmental organisation.

The undersigned UN and other international and non-governmental organisations protest in the strongest terms Israel's imposition of this unprecedented measure, which is in direct contravention of international law.

We fully respect Israel's security concerns. But we firmly reject the clear implication of the measures imposed at the Erez crossing for the last month that UN officials and international aid workers constitute a security threat to the State of Israel or its citizens. We call on the Israeli authorities to reopen the Erez crossing immediately, on a 24 hour-a-day basis, for all international staff members of all United Nations organisations and of all other international humanitarian and development agencies operating in the Gaza Strip. We seek a prompt return to procedures that will allow UN international staff members and other humanitarian aid and development workers to exit and enter Gaza freely, with minimal delays.

The closure of Erez has made the operations of all UN Agencies, NGOs and other humanitarian and development agencies unreasonably difficult, inefficient and costly. If these new restrictions persist, a number of international and non-governmental humanitarian organisations may be forced to stop their operations in the Gaza Strip. Médecins du Monde and UNAIS have already announced that, because of the blockade at Erez, they have had to suspend operations in Gaza.

It is not clear to us why the Government of Israel has imposed these unprecedented restrictions. The restrictions are violations of applicable international law and, in many cases, bilateral agreements between the Government of Israel and the agencies concerned. They also go against the undertakings on humanitarian access given by the Government of Israel in August last year to the UN Secretary-General's Personal Humanitarian Envoy, Ms. Catherine Bertini.

We have not received any official explanation of the need for these restrictions nor any indication of how long they will be kept in force. We are further disturbed that these restrictions come at a time when the Government of Israel is promising publicly to ease the plight of the population in the occupied Palestinian territory and to support humanitarian relief efforts.

If the Government of Israel is serious about wishing to support our humanitarian efforts, these restrictions should be lifted immediately.

Signatories:

United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA); World Food Programme (WFP); United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA); World Health Organisation (WHO); Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; Médecins sans Frontières; Médecins du Monde; Pharmaciens sans Frontières -- Comité International; Oxfam GB; Care International; Merlin; Enfants Refugiés du Monde; Solidaridad Internacional; CRIC (Centro Regionale d'Intervento per la Cooperazione); Movement for Peace, Disarmament and Liberty; UNA International Service (UK); World Vision.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Weather: Pacific Likely To Experience Double Dip La Niña Episode

The Pacific is likely to experience a rare occurrence of what is called a double dip La Niña in the coming months, Climate models and predictions tools used by Pacific National Meteorological and Hydrological services (NMHSs) show...
More>>

CNS: Will India's 1 Billion Vaccination-dose-milestone Be Catalytic For Vaccinating All?

On 21 October 2021, India crossed its milestone of administering over 1 billion (100 crores) doses within 278 days since it began the vaccination rollout (on 16th January 2021)... More>>

UN: UNHCR Chief Urges Better Support For 13 Million 'Exhausted' And Displaced Syrians
UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, has urged greater international support for the more than 13 million Syrians who’ve been displaced in the past 10 years...More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs


Pacific: Young Climate Leaders Call For Urgent Climate Action Ahead Of COP26

Eight Pacific Young Climate Leaders shared their experiences of climate resilience and activism in an inaugural dialogue with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General, Mr Henry Puna on 21 October 2021... More>>

UN: With Clock Ticking, Sustainable Transport Key To Global Goals
From electric cars and buses to zero-carbon producing energy sources, new and emerging technologies along with innovative policy changes, are critical for combating climate change. But to be effective, they must ensure that transport strategies benefit everyone, including the poorest... More>>


COP26: 7 Climate Action Highlights To Remember

A September to remember, a pivotal month for climate action commitments. From the United Nations General Assembly week to the final pre-COP meeting, last month was an important time to build momentum... More>>