Statement of the Secretary-General on crisis in Gaza

04 January 2009

New York 

In light of the deepening crisis in Gaza, I recalled my Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, to brief me in New York on the situation on the ground as well as diplomatic efforts underway. I also convened a meeting of my senior advisors as part of the ongoing response of the United Nations to all aspects of the crisis.

I believe the United Nations, in particular the Security Council, has a central role to play in bringing a speedy end to the conflict. I regret that the Security Council has not been able to reach a consensus, including during its emergency session held yesterday evening, in order to bring about an end to the violence. I will be working actively with members of the Council and other key players, in particular Arab leaders who I am seeing tomorrow at United Nations Headquarters, to facilitate the emergence of a consensus.

Meanwhile I remain extremely concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation on the ground. We are in close contact with the Israeli authorities to press them to open not only the Kerem Shalom crossing, but also Karni and Nahal Oz, to allow in, particularly, wheat grain and fuel for the power plant, as well as other essential supplies.

Given the crucial juncture at which we have arrived in the search for a ceasefire, I appeal to all members of the international community to display the unity and commitment required to bring this escalating crisis to an end.

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,  projected for 2016 to stand at US$ 96.5 million. 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:

Christopher Gunness
Spokesperson, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Communications
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: 
+972 (0)2 589 0267
Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: 
+972 (0)2 589 0724