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The Interview

UNRWA chief: Blockade of Gaza is 'unsustainable'

It's been just over a year Pierre Krähenbühl made his first official visit to the Gaza Strip as the newly appointed chief of the United Nations agency tasked with aiding the world's 5 million Palestinian refugees. He vowed to strenuously advocate an end to the blockade of Gaza and stand up for what he called the "collective punishment" suffered by Gaza's residents.

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During that visit in April 2014, Pierre Krähenbühl said he was "struck by the sheer unsustainability in human terms of this situation", referring to the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

He regrets the lack of a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "We advocate for a just and lasting solution to be found to the plight of these 5 million refugees", he told FRANCE 24's Douglas Herbert.

Regarding the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp just outside Damascus in Syria, recently overrun by the Islamic State group, he admitted that his agency no longer has access to the inside of the camp, but has been able to "extend its assistance to civilians fleeing Yarmouk".

Finally, Krähenbühl reacted to a UN report published this week, which held Israel responsible for striking UNRWA's schools in Gaza during last summer's war. He calls the report "an important element of the effort towards accountability" but admits that “this does not mean it will result in a change in the political paradigms”.

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