Ban gets first-hand look at Gaza devastation

“I am just appalled,” he said on visiting the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) compound that was bombed by Israel last week. “It is an outrageous and totally unacceptable attack against the United Nations,” he added, reiterating his call for a full investigation and to make those responsible accountable.

Mr. Ban said he would dispatch a humanitarian needs assessment team on Thursday, led by UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes. “I will do all I can, as Secretary-General of the United Nations, to help in this time of need,” he declared.

Earlier today he met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, again expressing his relief that Israel had declared a unilateral ceasefire. He stressed the importance of the full withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza and of putting a framework in place to ensure a durable and sustainable end to the violence.

He told Mr. Olmert the UN would continue to play a pivotal role in providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza, as well as in long term recovery and reconstruction.

In addition to visiting Gaza, Mr. Ban was also visiting the town of Sderot in southern Israel, a frequent target of Hamas rocket attacks. He has frequently condemned these attacks as well as Israel’s disproportionate response. The three weeks of violence claimed over 1,300 lives, 412 of them children, and wounded more than 5,300, 1,855 of them children, as well as causing widespread destruction and suffering.

Mr. Ban said a true end to violence, and true security for both Israelis and Palestinians, would only come through a just and comprehensive settlement to the long-festering Arab-Israeli conflict, including the creation of the State of Palestine living side by side with the State of Israel, in peace and security, consistent with relevant Security Council resolutions.

 

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Filed under Gaza, Humanitarian, Palestine

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