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UN Reports Warn of Humanitarian Catastrophe

UN Reports Warn of Humanitarian Catastrophe

Meanwhile, a UN human rights expert is preparing to submit a report to the UN General Assembly that charges Israel of triggering a “humanitarian catastrophe” in the occupied Palestinian territory, newspaper reports said on Wednesday.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, said in a draft report that the Israeli military is preventing Palestinians reaching food and water with restrictions on movement in the occupied territory, according to Swiss newspaper Le Temps and news agency ATS.

"The humanitarian catastrophe that is emerging in the Occupied Territories must be reversed," the Swiss sociologist and UN expert was quoted as saying in the draft.

"There can be no justification for harsh internal closures that prevent people from having access to food and water, otherwise the imposition of such military measures are amounting to what has been called a 'policy of starvation'", he said in the report.

The draft report was written following a visit by Ziegler to the Occupied Palestinian Territory in July, which included meetings with Israeli government officials in Tel Aviv and with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.

It is due to be presented later this month to the General Assembly in New York, which opened on Tuesday.

Another UN report said Wednesday the impact of Israeli occupation and the three-year uprising has transformed the occupied Palestinian territory into a “war-torn economy.”

Nearly two-thirds of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are now living below the poverty line while the unemployment rate among the population is running at more than 40 percent, according to the survey by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, whose country is a member of the G7, said Friday in Rome that a US$5 billion, 5-year aid plan for the economic reconstruction of areas damaged by the Israeli occupation should be approved. Berlusconi has championed the proposal for two years, without specifying which countries would participate.

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