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UN humanitarians plead for ‘access, access, access’ — Global Issues

Nature

“Every day you think it’s the worst day and the next day is worse,” UN health agency spokesman Christian Lindmeier said, citing a colleague in Gaza, which remains under almost blockade. complete. “Access, access, access is necessary. »

160 children killed daily

The level of mortality and suffering is “difficult to comprehend,” Lindmeier told reporters in Geneva. On average, 160 children are killed every day in the enclave and the total death toll has exceeded 10,000, according to figures from the Gaza Health Ministry.

Meanwhile, in the Hamas-led enclave, Israeli bombardment has intensified and military operations on the ground continue against fighters linked to the October 7 attacks.

In Israel, people are “scared, traumatized and anxious for their loved ones,” said Mr. Lindmeier of the World Health Organization (WHO), before reiterating his numerous calls for Hamas to release the hostages.

Many of those held captive are in need of urgent medical care, he said.

Diplomatic efforts

Echoing previous UN calls, Lindmeier insisted that what is needed now is “the political will to provide at least a humanitarian pause and access to alleviate the suffering of the civilian population as well as hostages in Gaza.

Diplomatic efforts towards this objective continued. UN human rights chief Volker Türk began a five-day visit to the region in Cairo on Tuesday to engage with government officials, civil society, victims and UN colleagues, emphasizing that “human rights violations are behind this escalation and that human rights play an important role.” central role in finding a way out of this vortex of pain.”

He is expected to travel to Rafah, on the Egypt-Gaza border, before heading to Amman, the Jordanian capital.

The spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Jens Laerke, confirmed to journalists in Geneva that the UN had been invited to the international conference on humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza organized by the French government in Paris on Thursday, and that it would be announced in due course. course which will participate on behalf of the Organization.

“Inhumane living conditions”

Meanwhile, the United Nations Palestine Refugee Agency (UNRWA) said on Tuesday that more than two in three Gazans had been displaced in a month.

“This is accompanied by constant fear and inhumane living conditions for almost 1.5 million people,” UNRWA said, including daily difficulties in finding bread and water as well as power cuts. of regular telecommunications that cut people off from their loved ones and the rest of the world.

More than 717,000 people are housed in 149 UNRWA facilities across the enclave, including in the north, cut off from the rest of the Gaza Strip by Israeli military operations.

Hundreds of trucks are waiting

“There is no justification for the horror endured by civilians in Gaza,” Lindmeier insisted, highlighting their desperate need for water, fuel, food and safe access to health care to survive.

He reiterated UN calls for “unimpeded, safe and secure access” for some 500 aid trucks per day, not only across the border but also “to patients in hospitals”. , where surgeries, including amputations, were performed. without anesthesia.

Hundreds of aid trucks are waiting to be accessed at the Egypt-Gaza border and humanitarians on the ground in Gaza are ready to facilitate the distribution of relief items, he said.

“Real heroes”

Mr. Lindmeier also said he was proud of the workers who maintain the health system in Gaza against all odds; “real heroes” who “work under constant stress, without respite”.

WHO mourns the 16 health workers who were killed in the line of duty, he said, emphasizing that any attack on health care is prohibited under international humanitarian law.

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