Annan urges increased aid to alleviate Palestinian economic hardship
“[I]t is not possible to restore security and stability without a resumption of political activity leading towards a just settlement and of economic activity leading to an improvement of living conditions,” he notes, reiterating his call for implementation of the recommendations of the fact-finding committee led by former United States Senator George Mitchell. The report provides details on the re-orientation of UN assistance efforts since the crisis broke out last September. “Development-oriented initiatives became extremely difficult to implement in the context of violence and lack of freedom of movement while, at the same time, the immediate needs on the ground called for a rapid response,” Mr. Annan notes. In response, UN agencies worked to meet the urgent needs of the Palestinian people, who “found every aspect of their lives disrupted.”Stressing the heightened need for increased activities and services provided by the UN and other organizations in the occupied Palestinian territory, the Secretary-General calls upon the international community to support aid programmes, especially the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which provides “vital services” to hundreds of thousands of people. “The dramatic deterioration of the economic and the humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territory highlights the urgent need to find a peaceful solution of the ongoing crisis,” writes the Secretary-General. He strongly urges the parties to end the current cycle of violence and to resume a meaningful political process on the basis of UN resolutions, leading to lasting peace and reconciliation.Meanwhile, the Secretary-General today reacted positively to the recent statement by the G-8 countries (the seven most industrialized States and Russia) concerning a third party monitoring mechanism in the Middle East. “I think now that they have come up with that recommendation, we need to work at it and try to see when and how we implement it,” he observed.Mr. Annan also said the international community, particularly the countries that made the statement at the G-8 summit meeting in Genoa, should be involved in that effort. “I think we all have to pool our efforts to try and calm the situation on the ground and move forward,” he stressed.