Insecurity prompts relocation of UN staff out of Gaza but Palestinians still get aid

Peter Hansen

Responding to prevailing insecurity in Gaza, the head of the main UN agency helping Palestine refugees has relocated some staff out the area while pledging today that the move will not hamper the provision of aid or services to those in need.

Peter Hansen, Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), issued a statement in Gaza explaining that “recent worrying developments” - including the extensive Israeli military operations in Beit Hanoun and increased unpredictability and insecurity faced by UN staff in crossing into and out of the Gaza Strip at Erez - drove his decision to relocate some staff last week to Jerusalem.

Voicing “serious concern” about the deteriorating security situation in the Gaza Strip, Mr. Hansen said the relocation aimed to enable staff “to continue to work in the most effective and efficient manner.”

He also paid tribute to the 8,300 Palestinians working for UNRWA in the Gaza Strip. “They are doing an excellent job under enormous pressure and often in situations of great danger,” he said. “They deserve everyone’s support, and I call upon all elements of Palestinian society to facilitate their vital work.”

The Commissioner-General also stressed that UNRWA’s headquarters and field office in Gaza continue to operate fully and will maintain all the services - education, health, social and emergency relief - provided to Palestine refugees. Addressing those concerned, he pledged “to assist you and to alleviate your suffering to the best of our ability.”

Statement by Peter Hansen, Commissioner-General of UNRWA

GAZA — The deteriorating security situation in the Gaza Strip is a matter of serious concern to me. Recent worrying developments include the extensive Israeli military operations in Beit Hanoun and increased unpredictability and insecurity faced by United Nations staff in crossing into and out of the Gaza Strip at Erez. As a result, I concluded last week that it was necessary to increase the Security phase rating and to relocate a small number of Headquarters staff to Jerusalem to enable them to continue to work in the most effective and efficient manner.

In these difficult and trying times, I acknowledge with gratitude the commitment of all my staff, in particular the 8,300 Palestinians working for UNRWA in the Gaza Strip. They are doing an excellent job under enormous pressure and often in situations of great danger. They deserve everyone’s support, and I call upon all elements of Palestinian society to facilitate their vital work.

Let there be no doubt that UNRWA’s Headquarters and Field Office in Gaza continue to operate fully and will maintain all the services provided to Palestine refugees: education, health, social and emergency relief services. As Commissioner-General, my job is to serve you and I will see to it that no effort is spared to assist you and to alleviate your suffering to the best of our ability.

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