UN agency calls on Israel to lift book blockade of Gaza schools

10 September 2009
Gaza schoolchildren

The main United Nations agency caring for Palestinian refugees today called on Israel to lift its blockade of Gaza to allow in educational materials for schools, stressing that these can serve as a major weapon in promoting tolerance and peace.

“There is a long history of UNRWA experiencing obstacles with the Israeli authorities in getting educational materials such as paper and books into Gaza,” spokesman Christopher Gunness said, referring to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

“This is particularly hard to understand as UNRWA’s education programmes, particularly subjects such as human rights and the Universal Declaration [of Human Rights], are underpinned by universal values which are informed by toleration and the need to resolve conflict peacefully.

“It is in the interests of everyone who believes in peace that the blockade of Gaza should be lifted especially for educational materials,” he added.

Mr. Gunness also noted that the agency has still been unable to get building materials into Gaza, which means that 60,000 structures, including schools, which were damaged or destroyed during the conflict earlier this year, remain in a state of disrepair.

Earlier this week, UNRWA reported that the two-year-long Israeli blockade of Gaza continued to cause severe deprivation to its population of some 1.5 million, with unprecedented unemployment rates soaring to around 40 per cent.

Israel imposed the blockade after Hamas, which does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, seized control of Gaza from the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority.


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