Press Releases

    PAL/1914
    11 April 2002

    CATASTROPHIC CONDITIONS IN JENIN CAMP AS ISRAEL
    MAKES MASS ARRESTS AT TRAINING CENTRE

    Camp Residents in Nablus Area Asked to Leave Shelters,
    Large-Scale Israeli Military Operation under Way in Camp

    JERUSALEM, 10 April (UNRWA) -- Peter Hansen, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), has said that the humanitarian crisis in Jenin refugee camp is fast turning into a catastrophe. Following the death of some 13 Israeli soldiers yesterday during their incursion into the camp, Israeli tanks and bulldozers are intensifying their demolition of shelters, with field reports indicating that the bulldozers are "shaving off" shelters in the one-kilometre square camp in which close to 15,000 refugees live.

    The UNRWA’s persistent and unrelenting efforts to gain access to the camp and to start the gruesome task of burying the dead, evacuating the wounded and bringing urgently needed food and water to the population have so far proved unsuccessful. Despite continuing requests to the Israel Defence Forces, UNRWA’s emergency teams, medical staff, ambulance crews, and trucks carrying medicine and food continue to be blocked a few hundred metres from the camp. The dreadful conditions in the camp are such that if relief teams do not gain access immediately, a terrible humanitarian tragedy will ensue.

    Early this morning a large number of Israeli soldiers and armoured vehicles entered refugee Camp No.1 in the Nablus area and ordered all residents to leave their houses. Male residents of the camp between the ages of 14 to 50 years old were rounded up for detention. Bulldozers were also reported to have started demolishing homes in the camp and house-to-house searches were under way. The UNRWA has called on the Israeli authorities to cease their incursion into Camp No.1 and to withdraw immediately.

    In the largest Israeli military operation into an institute of higher learning, special Israeli forces and army units yesterday broke into UNRWA’s Ramallah Men's Training Centre, arresting 104 trainees along with the Dean of the Centre Dr. Mohammad Omran. The UNRWA has launched a protest with the Israeli authorities and called for the immediate release of the trainees and the Dean, and also access for UNRWA's legal team to the detainees. The UNRWA has reminded the Israeli authorities of their responsibility for the security and sanctity of UNRWA staff and facilities, and that military incursions into its facilities are unacceptable.

    The UNRWA Commissioner-General Peter Hansen has condemned the detention of trainees and Dr. Omran and added that "incursions into UNRWA installations by Israeli forces and detention of UNRWA trainees and staff are completely unacceptable and contrary to Israel's obligations to guarantee the security of United Nations staff and installations. I demand the immediate release of the detainees." He also expressed his deep dismay and concern at the continuing assaults on Jenin refugee camp and the new incursion into Camp No.1, despite calls from the international community for the withdrawal of Israeli forces without delay.

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