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Plight of Palestinians Worsening, Says UNRWA Chief Karen Koning AbuZayd '63

July 3, 2009

Karen Koning AbuZayd Nov 2008.jpgJuly 3, 2009, Greencastle, Ind. — "Because there's been no change and the borders are not open, things are deteriorating" in Gaza, Karen Koning AbuZayd, commissioner-general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, tells Associated Press. A 1963 graduate of DePauw University, AbuZayd oversees the UN agency that provides humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. "People are in worse and worse condition every day, especially those who were affected by the conflict in late December and in January," she says.

Tensions over the presence of Hamas, which the West considers a terror organization, caused the closure of Gaza's borders. AP's Veronika Oleksyn writes, "Egypt opens the crossing periodically. Israel allows in food and humanitarian aid, but won't permit raw materials that the Gaza Strip needs to repair damage from Israel's winter war on Hamas, meant to stop militant rocket fire on Israeli towns. The closure has trapped some 1.4 million people."

AbuZayd says, "This is an urban Karen Koning AbuZayd 4.jpgenvironment, multistory buildings, people need all kinds of things in their homes -- they need light bulbs, they need washing powder, children need new shoes -- there's no shoes allowed in."

The complete story can be accessed here.

Karen Koning AbuZayd delivered the commencement address to DePauw's Class of 2007. Video and audio clips are included in this summary.

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