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UN engages parties at Security Council meeting — Global Issues

Nature

As the 15-member council prepared to meet, U.N. agencies reported that hundreds of people were killed and thousands injured following rocket attacks on Israel by Palestinian militants early Saturday morning. .

The Israeli response to the Hamas attacks has been airstrikes in Gaza, where the United Nations agency operating there, UNRWA, has reported massive damage and a rising number of deaths.

The UN agency is currently housing 73,538 internally displaced people in 64 of its schools across all areas of the Gaza Strip. An UNRWA school housing 225 people was “directly hit” and severely damaged, but no casualties were recorded, the agency said.

New reports emerge of alarming food shortages and clashes on the Israeli-Lebanese border.

UN News/Ziad Taleb

Men walk through a heavily damaged area in central Gaza.

Israeli-Lebanese border: rocket and artillery fire

Early Sunday, the United Nations peacekeeping operation in Lebanon, UNIFIL, “detected several rockets fired from southeastern Lebanon towards Israeli-occupied territory in the general area of ​​Kafr Chouba and gunfire from “Israeli artillery towards Lebanon in response,” according to the mission.

The UN Security Council-mandated mission, operating along an area known as the “Blue Line”, was deployed in 1978 to restore peace between Israel and Lebanon.

“We are in contact with authorities on both sides of the Blue Line, at all levels, to contain the situation and avoid a more serious escalation,” UNIFIL said in a statement. “Our peacekeepers remain at their post and on mission. »

UNIFIL said peacekeepers continued to work, “some from shelters, for their safety.”

“We urge everyone to exercise restraint and use UNIFIL’s liaison and coordination mechanisms to de-escalate the situation and avoid a rapid deterioration of the security situation,” the mission said.

In “close contact” with key players

At the same time, the head of the Middle East peace process, Tor Wennesland, “is in close contact” with the United States, the European Union, Qatar, Egypt and Lebanon “to discuss the ongoing war” in Israel and Gaza. according to a social media post through his office, UNSCO.

“The priority now is to avoid further loss of civilian life and provide much-needed humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip,” the UNSCO post said, adding that “the UN remains actively engaged in advancing these efforts “.

Calls to protect civilians

Senior UN officials called for an immediate end to the violence.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Saturday condemned “in the strongest possible terms” the Hamas attack on Israeli towns, UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said, calling for “a maximum restraint” and that “all diplomatic efforts” be deployed “to avoid a wider conflagration”. .

“Civilians must be respected and protected in accordance with international humanitarian law at all times,” the UN chief said in a statement.

UN agency sounds alarm over food shortage

As the conflict intensifies, civilians, including vulnerable children and families, face increasing difficulties in accessing essential food supplies, with distribution networks disrupted and production severely hampered by the hostilities, according to the World Food Program (WFP).

“WFP calls for safe and unhindered humanitarian access to affected areas, calling on all parties to respect the principles of humanitarian law, taking all necessary measures to safeguard the lives and well-being of civilians, including ensuring the ‘access to food,’ the agency said.

From Gaza, UNRWA reported that food operations remain suspended until further notice, with 14 distribution centers now closed. Some 112,759 families, or 541,640 individuals, have not yet received food assistance, the agency said.



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