WASHINGTON: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres highlighted Wednesday that more than 2 million residents can not get sufficient aid in the Gaza Strip as he demanded a full cease-fire.
“The level of aid to Palestinians in Gaza remains completely inadequate to meet the huge needs of more than two million people, and although the total volume of fuel allowed into Gaza has also increased, it remains utterly insufficient to sustain basic operations,” Guterres told UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East.
“Civilians in Gaza need a continuous flow of life-saving humanitarian aid and fuel into and across the area. Safe and unimpeded humanitarian access to all those in need is critical,“ Anadolu Agency reported him said.
Guterres welcomed the recent humanitarian pause between Israel and Hamas, but said nowhere is safe in Gaza.
“Intense negotiations are taking place to prolong the truce -- which we strongly welcome -- but we believe we need a true humanitarian cease-fire,“ said Guterres.
Qatar announced an agreement late Monday to extend an initial four-day humanitarian pause in fighting between Israel and Hamas for an additional two days, under which further prisoner exchanges will be carried out.
During the past five days, Israel received 60 hostages, including women and children, in exchange for the release of 180 Palestinians, including women and children, from Israeli prisons as part of a deal with Hamas.
Israel launched a massive military campaign in the Gaza Strip whch has killed over 15,000, including 6,150 children and 4,000 women since Oct 7.
Guterres said in Gaza, more than two-thirds of those killed are reportedly children and women.
“In a matter of weeks, a far greater number of children have been killed by Israeli military operations in Gaza than the total number of children killed during any year, by any party to a conflict since I have been Secretary-General - as clearly indicated in the annual reports on Children and Armed Conflict that I have submitted to the Council every year,“ he said.
Since the beginning of hostilities, Guterres said 111 UN workers were killed in Gaza.
“This represents the largest loss of personnel in the history of our organization. Let me put it plainly: Civilians, including UN personnel, must be protected. Civilian objects, including hospitals, must be protected. UN facilities must not be hit,“ he said, as he urged all parties to respect international humanitarian law.
Guterres said much more is required to begin to address human needs in Gaza.
“Gaza needs an immediate and sustained increase in humanitarian aid including food, water, fuel, blankets, medicines and healthcare supplies. It is important to recognise that the Rafah border crossing does not have enough capacity, especially taking into account the slow pace of procedures.
“That is why we have been urging the opening of other crossings, including Kerem Shalom, and the streamlining of inspection mechanisms to allow for the necessary increase of lifesaving aid,“ he said.
But he noted that humanitarian aid alone will not be sufficient.
He added that a two-state solution, based on UN resolutions and international law, must be ensured.
“The people of Gaza are in the midst of an epic humanitarian catastrophe before the eyes of the world. We must not look away,“ he added. - Bernama, Anadolu Agency