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

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at more than US$ 106  million.

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