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UN humanitarian chief assesses impact of closures on West Bank residents

UN humanitarian chief assesses impact of closures on West Bank residents

John Holmes, USG for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator
During a visit to the West Bank today, the United Nations humanitarian chief saw the difficulties faced daily by Palestinian residents due to restrictions on the movement of people, goods and services.

At the Augusta Victoria Hospital, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes heard about the various hardships faced by West Bank patients in getting to hospitals and receiving crucial treatments, as well as the difficulties health workers holding West Bank identity cards encounter in getting to their jobs due to the existing permit regime.

During a stop in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Abu Dis, Mr. Holmes, who is also UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, saw the Barrier being constructed by the Israeli Government, and upon crossing the Gilo checkpoint, viewed the enclaves created by the construction.

Stressing the consequences of further construction of the Barrier for the daily lives of Palestinians, he said: “It is clear that the route of the Barrier, the expanding settlements and the closure regime and associated controls are severely damaging the social and economic structures of the West Bank and contributing to increased aid reliance, poverty and unemployment.

“The promised relaxation of the closures is urgently needed, as a minimum first step towards the kind of economic development which can underpin successful peace negotiations,” Mr. Holmes added.

The humanitarian chief also travelled today to Hebron, where he was briefed on the implications of the closures and restrictions on the area's socio-economic activities.

Tomorrow, Mr. Holmes is scheduled to visit the Israeli cities of Sderot and Tel Aviv, where he will meet with government officials, before returning to the West Bank to hold discussions with representatives of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) providing assistance to residents of the occupied Palestinian territory.