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The BBC's Caroline Wyatt in Jerusalem
"Israelis aren't convinced that Mr Arafat really wants to end the violence"
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Friday, 15 June, 2001, 09:57 GMT 10:57 UK
'Crisis looms' in Gaza
Palestinian children pelt an Israeli army jeep with stones
Medical supplies in Gaza could run out from next week
By Middle East correspondent Frank Gardner

The United Nations has warned of a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip due to a shortage of medical supplies there.

Peter Hansen, the head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (Unrwa), said on Friday that supplies could run out as early as next week due to months of Israeli blockades.


Israeli search procedures are the most obstructive I have ever known

Peter Hansen, UN chief in Gaza
X-ray machines, surgical swabs and essential drugs have all been waiting for months in a warehouse in Jerusalem.

According to Mr Hansen, eight months of Israeli blockades have prevented 60 truckloads of medical supplies from reaching Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Now, despite Israel's promise to gradually lift restrictions on the Palestinian territories, the Unrwa head says the UN's clinics in Gaza face a critical shortage.

What Unwra needs
X-ray machines
Surgical swabs
Essential drugs
Cash
Mr Hansen, who has worked in the Balkans, said Israeli search procedures were the most obstructive he had ever known.

Because of Israeli checkpoints in the Gaza Strip, he says his staff had sometimes had to wait three hours to get to work.

He called the obstructions unacceptable, and contrary to the Geneva Convention.

As well as a shortage of supplies, Unrwa's operations are heading for a cash crisis.

Mr Hansen said the emergency relief operation in the Palestinian territories was costing an estimated US$160m, and he would soon be making an appeal for international donations.

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See also:

15 Jun 01 | Middle East
Violence tests Mid-East truce
13 Jun 01 | Middle East
Tenet plan open to interpretation
13 Jun 01 | Middle East
Kofi Annan pushes for Mid-East peace
12 Jun 01 | Middle East
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06 Jun 01 | Middle East
CIA back centre stage in Mid-East
06 Jun 01 | Middle East
Viewpoint: Gazans fear for the future
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