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U.N. Cuts Relief Program Because Of Kidnaps With PM-Lebanon-Kidnap

February 20, 1988

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ The United Nations Relief and Works Agency said today it will cut services for the 260,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon because of the kidnapping of two Scandinavian employees.

UNRWA has blamed the Feb. 5 kidnapping of Jan Stening, 44 of Sweden, and William Jorgensen, 58, of Norway, on Palestinians acting independently of guerrilla factions.

″There will be noticeable changes in UNRWA services and activities because of security problems and the lack of freedom of movement,″ UNRWA spokesman Niall Kiely said.

″We feel agency staff, be they foreign nationals or locals, are under threat to their physical safety.

Kiely said only four of the 14 international members of UNRWA assigned to Lebanon are now in Moslem west Beirut. ″And they are very heavily involved in the search for Stening and Jorgensen,″ he added.

On Wednesday, U.S. Marine Lt. Col. William R. Higgins, head of an observer force attached to the U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon, was taken hostage in south Lebanon.

Asked whether any progress has been made in efforts to release the two Scandinavians, Kiely said he was ″reasonably hopeful because there are no real setbacks″ in negotiations to free them. He did not elaborate.

He confirmed a report that Per Olof Hallqvist, UNRWA’s director in Lebanon, met the agency’s deputy Commissioner-General, Robert Dillon, in Larnaca, Cyprus, Thursday.

He said a program to repair Beirut’s war-ravaged Chatilla and Bourj el- Barajneh Palestinian refugee camps has been stopped ″because it can’t be supervised.″

He said UNRWA ″is making every effort to minimize the impact of the emergency on refugees, but the agency must also recognize the reality of facts on the ground as well as ensuring the physical safety of all agency staff.″

About 2,200 local relief workers serve with UNRWA at field centers in Lebanon.

Kiely said another impact of the kidnappings in south Lebanon is that all UNRWA transports between Beirut and the southern port cities of Sidon and Tyre have been stopped both ways.

He said agency operations such as schools ″have a certain momentum, so for the moment many services will continue to run as before.″

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