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Members of Jenin fact-finding team leave Geneva after Annan disbands group

Members of Jenin fact-finding team leave Geneva after Annan disbands group

Following last night's decision by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan to disband a UN fact-finding team to the Jenin refugee camp, members of the group today left Geneva where they had been preparing for the mission.

According to Mr. Annan's spokesman, the Secretary-General had received a reply to the letter he had sent yesterday to the head of the fact-finding mission, former President of Finland Marti Ahtisaari, and his team, thanking them for "the dedication, energy and time that they have given the United Nations."

In their letter, the three principal members of the team, which in addition to Mr. Ahtisaari included former UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata and Cornelio Sommaruga, former President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), informed the Secretary-General of the planning activities undertaken in Geneva.

"We are disappointed that our mission, which we had hoped would contribute to improving the situation in the Middle East, was not able to deploy," spokesman Fred Eckhard quoted their letter as saying.

The Secretary-General's decision to disband the team was announced in a statement released on Thursday evening.

"The Secretary-General has written to the Council President, the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority communicating this decision," the statement said, adding that the step was taken in the context of the letter Mr. Annan had forwarded to the Security Council on Wednesday.