OCHA condemns Hamas confiscation of aid supplies in Gaza


UNITED NATIONS : John Holmes, the head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), on Wednesday condemned as “unacceptable” the confiscation of aid supplies from the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza yesterday by Hamas personnel, and demanded the aid be returned immediately.

Support TwoCircles

UNRWA also condemned Hamas move earlier today. Hamas rejected the accusation.

Holmes made clear in a statement issued by his office that while the UN and its partners are doing their utmost to provide for the basic humanitarian needs of 1.4 million civilians affected by the recent 23-day Israeli military operation, such actions could jeopardize the provision of aid.

“The United Nations cannot accept under any circumstances the diversion of aid by a party to a conflict,” Holmes said, adding that “to ensure the access of civilians in Gaza to life-saving assistance and the sustained delivery of aid and essential reconstruction supplies, I call on all parties to respect the neutrality and independence of aid workers, supplies and facilities.” UNRWA reported that over 3,500 blankets and 406 food parcels were confiscated yesterday from a distribution store at Beach Camp in Gaza by police personnel after the agency’s staff had earlier refused to hand over the aid supplies to the Hamas-run Ministry of Social Affairs.

It said that the police subsequently broke into the agency’s warehouse and used force to seize the supplies which were due to be distributed to five hundred families in the area.
UNRWA condemned in the strongest terms the confiscation of its aid supplies and demanded that it is returned immediately.

It noted that it has a strict system of monitoring aid delivery and ensuring that its assistance reaches only the intended beneficiaries.

Hamas has been accused by Fatah officials in the past of selling UNRWA relief supplies to the needy, an accusation Hamas also rejected. (end) sj.bs KUNA 050034 Feb 09NNNN