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Lebanon: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights recalls obligation to protect civilians and humanitarian convoys

Geneva, 23 May 2007: The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, today expressed grave concern regarding the situation of civilians caught in the ongoing fighting in the densely populated Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr el-Bared in Northern Lebanon.

The High Commissioner is distressed by reports of dozens of civilian deaths and wounded. "The shelling of an UNRWA convoy yesterday is unacceptable", she added. The High Commissioner recalled the obligation of all parties in the fighting to exercise precaution and to protect civilians not taking a direct part in the hostilities. The protection from attack for humanitarian workers and medical personnel and their unrestricted access to civilians are also guaranteed under the principles of international humanitarian law.

The High Commissioner further condemned in the strongest terms the bombings in the heart of Beirut.