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Friday, 20 February 1987
Page: 387


Senator GARETH EVANS —I would also like to add further to an answer I gave to Senator Crowley three days ago about Palestinian refugees. In that answer concerning the situation in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon I indicated that there had been encouraging reports that food and medicine had been allowed into the camps. Subsequently I have learnt through our Embassy in Vienna that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Vienna has advised that despite reports of aid entering the camps UNRWA has not been able to gain access to any of the camps concerned. If this is the case and if other relief agencies, such as the Red Cross, have been unable to enter the camps the situation remains a cause for very considerable concern. The situation is very confused because of the complex nature of the conflicts in Lebanon. However, efforts are being made to check out the situation. As I said earlier in the week, no new appeals have been received from the UN and international relief agencies operating in Lebanon. However, the Government will give sympathetic consideration to requests for assistance if and when they are received.