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Urgent Action Needed To Alleviate Plight In Gaza

Urgent Action Needed To Alleviate Desperate Plight Of Gaza’s Civilians – UN Rights Expert

Steps to alleviate the “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza must be taken immediately, an independent United Nations human rights expert said today, calling on the world body to turn its words into action.

In a statement, Richard Falk, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, said that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, among other top officials, have voiced their concerns over the œdesperate plight of Gaza™s civilian population.

“And still Israel maintains its Gaza siege in its full fury, allowing only barely enough food and fuel to enter to stave off mass famine and disease,” he said, characterizing the policy as one of “collective punishment.”

Acknowledging the potential political difficulties, Mr. Falk said “it is time to act,” adding that at the very least, the UN should make efforts to implement the principle of a “responsibility to protect.”

Last week, Karen AbuZayd, Commissoner General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) opened a year-long series of events in Jerusalem to mark the agency’s 60th anniversary on 8 December.

“Closures in the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza add to the terrifying sense of being trapped, physically, intellectually and emotionally, depriving children of that simplest of rights, the right to be a child,” said Ms. AbuZayd.

Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, UNRWA was established by the General Assembly to carry out direct relief and works programmes for Palestine refugees.

ENDS

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