UN relief mission to Jenin camp reveals monumental destruction

UN relief mission report:
Raymond Dolphin <raydolphin@hotmail.com> wrote:
From: "Raymond Dolphin"
I was in Jenin camp with the UNRWA distribution team (see below) and believe me
it was much worse than any of us had feared with hundreds of houses totally
destroyed and who knows how many bodies under the rubble.
Ray Source: UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East
Date: 16 Apr 2002
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UN relief mission to Jenin camp reveals monumental destruction
UNRWA/HQ/G/14
Public Information Office
HQ Gaza
The destruction to Jenin camp looks like the aftermath of an earthquake,
according to UN aid workers who accompanied two truckloads of food and
medicines into the camp today. The wholesale obliteration of homes, streets and
commercial buildings will leave a huge number of Palestinian refugee homeless,
according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees
(UNRWA).

Most shocking of all, the aid teams were told by residents that they hear
noises coming from people trapped underneath collapsed buildings but are unable
to free them. The Israeli military authorities would allow only limited access
to the camp for the two truckloads of aid. Earthmoving equipment cannot
currently gain access to the scene nor can the numbers of rescue workers that
would be needed to dig survivors to safety. However, there are reports that
seven people have been pulled alive from the rubble
in the last 24 hours.

Teams from the International Committee of the Red Cross removed a small number
of bodies that were easily accessible, but UNRWA believes many more remain
buried beneath the devastation.

The Israeli Defence Forces still maintain a heavy presence inside the camp with
tanks and internal checkpoints. At one point today a tank parked itself in
front of one of UNRWA's half-full food trucks to prevent it distributing its
remaining food aid.

UNRWA's food and water supplies that did get to distribute their loads were
rushed by large crowds, mainly composed of women, desperate to feed their
families after 14 consecutive days trapped in the fighting and its aftermath.
UNRWA urgently needs to gain unlimited access to the camp to allow it to care
for the large numbers of people in need of basic relief supplies. The Agency
has large quantities of aid standing outside the camp ready to meet the needs
of those inside as soon as its is given free access to carry out its
humanitarian mandate.

UNRWA installations such as a school and a health clinic were badly damaged in
the assault on the camp and were extensively damaged by bullets.  Unexploded
ordnance remains in the grounds of an UNRWA school and will require profession
defusing before the building can be used.  UNRWA is endeavouring to re-open its
clinic to provide services to the camp residents. The Agency is also planning
to set up water supply points in the camp, but will require access from the
IDF.

Richard Cook, Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank, said: "The reports
we are getting are of wholesale destruction of a kind more normally associated
with natural disasters such as earthquakes. UNRWA still has not been given full
access to the camp, where we believe many thousands of people are still in dire
need of food, water and medical attention. We implore the Israeli authorities
to open up the camp to allow our relief teams to help its desperate
population."