The Islamic Post Blog

Top United Nations Official Calls for Immediate Access for Foreign Journalists into Gaza by Khalida
February 2, 2009, 6:52 am
Filed under: February Volume I- 2009, Front Page News, International

The chief of communications and public information for the United Nations today called on the Israeli Government to ensure immediate access for international media into Gaza, stressing the need for “full and independent” coverage of events unfolding in the territory which has been the target of an Israeli offensive launched nearly two weeks ago.
“Access to objective and factual information is of vital importance at all times, and plays a particularly important role in emergency situations,” Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, writes in a letter to Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Gabriela Shalev.
Citing reports, including from the Foreign Press Association of Israel, that international media are not being allowed access to Gaza, Mr. Akasaka reminds the Israeli Government of the right to information enshrined in article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
He also recalls Security Council resolution 1738, in which the 15-member body urged all parties involved in situations of armed conflict to respect the professional independence and rights of journalists.
Member States have expressed a keen interest in what is taking place in Gaza, he states, adding that it is “of great importance to all concerned that international reporting be allowed to take place so that accurate information about the situation can inform global responses.”
A chorus of UN officials, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, have repeatedly called for an immediate halt to the fighting in Gaza and stressed the need to ensure humanitarian access to assist the 1.5 million civilians struggling amid rapidly deteriorating conditions.
The humanitarian news and analysis service, IRIN, of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, reported the following:
“As the Israeli operation in Gaza entered its 13th day, human rights NGOs in Israel began collecting testimonies over the phone from Gazans.
“Sarit Michaeli, a spokesperson for Israeli NGO Betselem, told IRIN on 7 January: ‘We collect testimonies over the phone; [but] it is becoming increasingly hard to reach Gazans by phone. Our staff keep going at it.’
“[As of 8 January], casualties in Gaza are now estimated at at least 683 killed, according to the Gaza ministry of health; some 3,085 have been wounded.
“On 6 January, the Israeli authorities allowed a brief testimony of an Israeli army officer in Gaza to be aired on public radio: ‘The situation in Gaza is grim; we see women and children carrying white flags looking for food,’ he said.
“Dan Magen from Israeli NGO Physicians for Human Rights asked the defence minister to open a humanitarian corridor and allow wounded Gazans into hospitals in Israel. But he told IRIN: “This is too little.”


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