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Security Council urges aid access to Palestinian civilians, backs Annan's plan on Jenin fact-finding

Security Council urges aid access to Palestinian civilians, backs Annan's plan on Jenin fact-finding

UN Security Council in session
Expressing concern over the "dire" humanitarian situation of the Palestinian civilians amid reports of destruction and an unknown number of deaths in the Jenin refugee camp, the United Nations Security Council has called for the lifting restrictions imposed on relief organizations and stressed the urgent need for access to the Palestinian civilian population.

In resolution 1405 adopted unanimously late on Friday evening, the Council also welcomed the initiative of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to develop accurate information about recent events in the Jenin camp through a fact-finding team and requested Mr. Annan to keep the 15-member body informed.

In calling for the lifting of restrictions on the humanitarian organizations, the Council noted, in particular, the International Committee of the Red Cross and UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

The resolution also stressed the need for all concerned "to ensure the safety of civilians, and to respect the universally accepted norms of international humanitarian law."

The Council's action followed a two-day open debate, during which representatives of over 40 nations, including all Council members, expressed their concern with the deteriorating situation in the Middle East and stressed the necessity of immediately implementing the body's recent resolutions, 1402 and 1403.

Those texts call for immediate steps by both parties towards a meaningful ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian cities, and full cooperation with United States Special Envoy Anthony Zinni and others to implement the plan put forward by George Tenet, the Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency, as a first step towards putting into practice the recommendations made by a committee led by former US Senator George Mitchell.