Secretary-General António Guterres said on X, formerly Twitter: “I reiterate my appeal for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, together with the unconditional release of hostages and the delivery of relief at a level corresponding to the dramatic needs of the people in Gaza, where a humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in front of our eyes.”
The UN chief is on his way to Nepal but is following the situation closely. His spokesman in NY said that at a stopover in Doha, Qatar, Mr. Guterres spoke by phone with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi and the two discussed the current situation in the Middle East and spoke about the coordination of humanitarian efforts for civilians in Gaza.
The UN health agency says that it has lost contact with its staff in the enclave but is still trying to gather information on the overall impact on civilians and health care.
“WHO reminds all parties to the conflict to take all precautions to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure. This includes health workers, patients, health facilities and ambulances, and civilians who are sheltering in these facilities,” the agency said in a press release.
Active measures must be taken, the agency continued, to ensure civilians and health workers are not harmed and safe passage provided for the movement of desperately needed medical supplies, fuel, water and food into and across Gaza.
WHO’s warning comes as the crisis in the Gaza Strip enters its third week following the 7 October incursion by Hamas militants into Israel and Israel’s subsequent declaration of war.
The ongoing violence has left thousands dead on both sides and while UN and other humanitarian agencies have been able to move a trickle of aid, goods and health supplied into the ravaged enclave through the Rafah crossing in Egypt, much more is needed to meet the skyrocketing needs.