Ogata voices concern about the situation in the Middle East
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, today expressed concern at the escalating violence in the Middle East.
"I am saddened by the human toll of the latest conflict. I hope that the clashes will end soon and leaders in the Middle East will continue their search for peace through negotiations," Mrs. Ogata said.
Mrs. Ogata issued the statement following a call at UNHCR's Geneva headquarters by a contact group from the 52-member Organization of the Islamic Conference and the League of Arab States. The diplomats said they were seriously concerned at developments in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, which have led to the deaths of nearly 100 civilians and injury to over 2,000 others.
The High Commissioner, who visited the Middle East, including Gaza and the West Bank in May, said she was also worried about the humanitarian aspects of continued conflict and the plight of 4 million Palestinian refugees.
While Palestinian refugees come under the care of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, Mrs. Ogata pointed out that a large number of those outside the UNRWA area are assisted by UNHCR.
She said unless a solution is reached to end the violence quickly she fears that it will have a destabilizing effect in the region and produce an outflow of refugees and seriously affect the right of return of the Palestinian refugees.