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Palestinian women should contribute to conflict-resolution initiatives - UN report

Palestinian women should contribute to conflict-resolution initiatives - UN report

Stressing the need for a negotiated settlement to the conflict in the Middle East, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has urged the full participation of Palestinian women in this effort, according to a report released today at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The Secretary-General’s report on the situation of Palestinian women paints a grim picture of their plight. “Many women were killed or wounded and/or lost their husbands, children or other family members” during the conflict, he notes. On the economic and social front, poverty rates are rising while access to basic services, such as education and health, has been “severely curtailed” for women and girls.

“Since the status and living conditions of Palestinian women are linked to the achievement of a peaceful resolution of the conflict, new efforts need to be made by the international community in order to end the violent confrontations in the occupied Palestinian territory,” writes the Secretary-General. He stresses the importance of involving women fully in “any conflict-resolution or peace-building initiatives” for the region. “It is also important that efforts be made to increase women’s full participation in decision-making processes at all levels.”

The report also calls for bolstering UN relief activities in the area. “In view of the current crisis,” Mr. Annan writes, “it is essential that United Nations entities continue to operate in the occupied territory and the refugee camps and that the focus on the advancement of women, particularly in areas such as education, health, social welfare, human rights, employment and economic empowerment, is strengthened.” In particular, he urges greater support for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).