The Israeli military authorities today granted the United Nations access to the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank, but then prevented relief workers from delivering urgently needed supplies to the population there.
After days of trying, a group of UN personnel from the Office of the Special Coordinator for the Middle East and from the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) finally received permission this morning from Israeli military authorities to enter Jenin Camp, according to a UN spokesman in New York. The team was accompanied by two UNRWA trucks with food and water supplies.
"After approximately 30 minutes in the camp, UNRWA was told by the IDF [Israeli Defence Force] officials that it would not be permitted to unload the much-needed supplies," spokesman Fred Eckhard said. "It then became impossible for the team to continue its mission and they left the camp."
Israel had apparently offered "no explanation," as the reason for its decision, said Mr. Eckhard in response to questions. "All they did was say that these goods could not be unloaded and as a result of that the convoy turned around and left," he said, adding that while inside the camp, UN officials reportedly witnessed a people in need of food and especially water.
Out of a total population of 14,000 refugees in the camp, some 4,000 have left or been forced out of the camp into the neighbouring town and villages, according to UNRWA. The women, children and elderly persons who comprised most of the remaining population have been without any water, food and medical attention for 14 consecutive days.