U.N. Delegation´s Trip to Holy Land Is Supported

Vatican Aide Says Peace Still Hinges on Negotiations

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GENEVA, APRIL 8, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican is supporting a decision by the U.N. Human Rights Commission to send a mission to Israel and the occupied territories in order to monitor the humanitarian situation.

The Vatican´s permanent observer at the United Nations here, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, also emphasized that a lasting peace in the Mideast will depend on a return to negotiations.

The U.N. commission held a special session Friday to discuss human-rights violations in the occupied territories.

«Following a very long debate, with the intervention of some 20 countries, among which was the Vatican, it was decided to send a special mission,» Archbishop Martin told Vatican Radio today.

The delegation will be headed by Mary Robinson, High Commissioner for Human Rights. Its objective will be to verify the situation firsthand and present a detailed report to the panel. «They should leave any day now; all depends on the reception they receive on the spot,» the archbishop said.

Representatives of Israel and the Palestinian Authority were among the key speakers in Friday´s debate. Other national delegates spoke after them and highlighted the lack of access to food and sanitary services.

Many countries voiced concern about Yasser Arafat´s lack of mobility and about the problem of terrorism.

«The Vatican said explicitly that it is legitimate for the U.N. to verify the situation of human rights,» Archbishop Martin added. «It is very clear to me that the future of the peoples of the Middle East lies in finding the way to live together in mutual respect. Sooner or later, they will sit around a table. The question is: Why wait? Why must there still be dead?»

The United States and Europe are already allocating funds for humanitarian relief. «The problem is that while there is no security on site it will be difficult to address» the emergency, Archbishop Martin concluded.

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