On his first visit to Gaza, the new United Nations envoy on the Middle East peace process pledged today the Organization’s ongoing support for efforts to reconstruct the war-ravaged enclave, lift Israel’s years-long blockade there and help strengthen Palestinian unity.
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov, appointed in February, said he met with the various political entities, government representatives, civil society and the business community, “to identify how best the United Nations can contribute both to the reconstruction effort, but also to the effort to strengthen the unity of Palestine.”
“Let me say…that we, in the United Nations mission, believe that there is one Palestinian entity; there is one Palestinian state; there is one Palestinian Government; one authority that speaks on behalf of all the people of Palestine,” he said.
He expressed the hope that the UN would be able to support the effort to strengthen this unity as regarded the “full presence of the Government of Palestine in Gaza,” resolving the challenges that exist for the public sector employees, control of the crossings and implementation and delivery of all services necessary for the people of Gaza and across the rest of the Palestinian territories.
“No human being who visits can remain untouched by the terrible devastation that one sees here in Gaza,” he said, and as shocking as the devastation of the buildings might be “the devastation of peoples’ livelihoods is 10 times more shocking."
“And we, the United Nations and our partners in the international community, have a responsibility to ensure that Gaza is not just reconstructed, that the buildings are not just being rebuilt, but that the blockade, which stops access to construction materials, to movement of people and goods, is lifted,” said Mr. Mladenov.
Turning to another pressing issue, the situation of Palestinian refugees and displaced Syrians in a besieged camp on the outskirts of Damascus, he said that on a couple of occasions he had met with representatives of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) to discuss how best to support the efforts to ensure that the humanitarian suffering in Yarmouk is addressed as effectively as possible.
“Our colleagues at UNRWA [UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East] are making heroic efforts to reach and support all those that have fled the conflict there,” he added.