Statement After Israel's Announcement of Unilateral Ceasefire

17 January 2009

17 January 2009

Beirut, Lebanon
I am relieved that the Israeli Government has decided to cease hostilities as of midnight GMT.

This should be the first step toward establishing a durable and sustainable ceasefire leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza, as called for by the Security Council resolution 1860. Hamas must stop firing rockets now.

Urgent humanitarian access for the people of Gaza is the immediate priority. The United Nations is ready to act.

Any durable solution must include the reopening of the crossings and the prevention of illicit trafficking in arms.

There has been too much suffering, for too long. We have to end it now.

We must begin to help people rebuild their lives.

Background Information

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s Programme Budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.

For more information, please contact: