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Despite assurances of access, Israel still blocks UN aid from reaching Jenin camp

Despite assurances of access, Israel still blocks UN aid from reaching Jenin camp

Israel continues to block international relief workers from delivering aid to the Jenin refugee camp on the West Bank despite assurances of cooperation, a United Nations spokesman said today.

"The UN has been extremely worried about the steady stream of unconfirmed reports of widespread suffering and destruction, yet we have been prevented from reaching those in need," Fred Eckhard told reporters in New York.

Mr. Eckhard said that on Wednesday, the Israeli Defence Force had assured the UN that a team of humanitarian and medical personnel would be given access to the camp to bring in food and medical supplies, evacuate dead bodies as well as the wounded, and assess the most immediate emergency needs of the population. Although today the IDF did facilitate entry into Jenin town, the team, after waiting for over four hours, "was informed by Israeli military authorities that they would not be given access to the camp on security grounds."

The United Nations called on the Israeli Government to provide immediate access, the spokesman said, adding that international aid workers remained in Jenin town, "available to enter the camp as soon as access is granted."

Meanwhile, a team from the UN Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was able to get a truckload of food supplies, tents, and powdered milk into Jenin town and hospital, according to the spokesman.

Voicing concern over the situation in the area, Mr. Eckhard cited reports indicating that water and electricity supplies had been cut off since the camp was sealed off by the Israeli authorities nine days ago. He noted that the UN had been unable to deliver food since then, while during the entire period the area had been under round-the-clock curfew.