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“History is watching us,” UN relief chief warns, saying access to aid is key priority — Global Issues


“History is watching us,” said Martin Griffiths, Emergency Relief Coordinator in Geneva, highlighting the desperate situation facing an estimated one million Gazans uprooted last week after the Israeli army warned of an imminent offensive following the deadly October 7 attacks against Israel. militant group Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2006.

Access to help is our top priority. And we are in hourly, in-depth discussions with the Israelis, the Egyptians and the Gazans about how to achieve this,” Griffiths said, adding that he was optimistic that “good news” would be announced soon. that a solution could be found to resolve this problem. the political impasse that prevented aid convoys from passing through the Egyptian town of Rafah to southern Gaza.

The UN’s top humanitarian aid official was speaking before heading to the Middle East, “trying to help, working with diplomats from all countries” to ensure access to help and defuse the powder keg situation, which the UN Secretary-General described on Sunday as being in danger. “On the brink of the abyss”.

International responsibility

“All member states have an obligation… not just those in the region” to defuse the worst Israeli-Palestinian conflagration in decades, Mr. Griffiths continued. “The United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union and the Arab world all have an obligation” to ensure that civilian lives are protected and the rules of war are respected.

“Don’t attack civilian infrastructure, protect civilians when they move,” insisted the UN official. “Make sure they get the help they need and make sure there are corridors that allow them some respite incessant attacks inflicted on them.

Hostage crisis

One of the main issues facing diplomats is securing the release of the 199 Israeli hostages captured in the Hamas raid, the UN emergency relief chief said.

“This war was started by the taking of these hostages. Of course, there is a history between the Palestinian people and the Israeli people, and I don’t deny any of that. But this act alone started a fire that can only be put out with the release of these hostages.”

Amid ongoing airstrikes in Gaza and concerns about a regional escalation of conflict – particularly on the northern border with Lebanon – Mr Griffiths reiterated the need for humanity to prevail.

History is watching to see if the consequences of this war are going to be bad for generations. or if there must be ways to quickly rebuild all of this, some sort of civility or good neighborliness between these two tragic peoples. …(These are) the messages that I will convey to the region regarding prejudice in favor of one or the other, prejudice in favor of humanity.

The toll goes up

Since the start of the war, which has cost the lives of some 1,300 Israeli citizens and injured 3,200 others, 2,750 people have reportedly been killed in Gaza and more than 7,500 injured.

Fourteen staff members of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, UNWRA, were also killed.. “They were teachers, engineers, guards and psychologists, an engineer and a gynecologist,” Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini told journalists on Sunday.

Medical aid in Lebanon

The World Health Organization (WHO) has urgently sent essential medical supplies to Lebanon to be ready to respond to any potential health crisis.Iis here.

Two shipments arrived in Beirut on Monday from the WHO logistics center in Dubai and include enough medicines and surgical and trauma supplies to meet the needs of 800 to 1,000 injured patients. The Lebanese Ministry of Health is in the process of identifying referral hospitals that will receive these vital supplies.

Lebanon’s health system has been crippled due to the economic crisis, the Beirut port explosion in August 2020, and the added burden of the Syrian refugee crisis. There are serious shortages of specialized doctors and health workers, as well as medicines and medical equipment.

Since the escalation of violence between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory last Saturday, clashes have also been reported on the border between Israel and southern Lebanon, resulting in civilian casualties.

Latest updates from UNRWA:

  • More than a million people, almost half of Gaza’s total population, have been displaced. A few 600,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) in the Middle Zone, Khan Yunis and Rafah, among these, near 400,000 are in UNRWA facilities – far beyond our ability to provide meaningful assistance, including providing shelter space, food, water or psychological support.
  • Despite the evacuation order from Israeli forces, a An unknown number of displaced people remain in UNRWA schools in Gaza City and the North. UNRWA is no longer able to assist or protect them. More than 160,000 displaced people have taken refuge in 57 UNRWA premises.
  • The number of deaths increases. There are not enough body bags for the dead in Gaza.
  • There is some water available in local shops, but rations remain limited to one liter of water per person per day for UNRWA teams in the Rafah logistics base (to cover drinking and all costs). other needs).
  • Gaza residents have very limited access to drinking water. As a last resort, people consume brackish water from agricultural wells, triggering serious concerns about the spread of waterborne diseases.
  • After five days, Gaza has no electricity, pushing vital services, including health, water and sanitation, to the brink of collapse.
  • UNRWA sent a advanced team in Egypt to prepare for the possible opening of a humanitarian corridor to deliver humanitarian aid supplies into the Gaza Strip.
  • Sunday, only eight UNRWA health centers were operational throughout the Gaza Strip and providing primary health care services, with an estimated supply of less than a month.
  • There are a total of 3,500 hospital beds in Gaza. The evacuation orders apply to 23 hospitals in Gaza and northern Gaza, totaling 2,000 beds.

More to come on this developing story…


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