“Enough is Enough,” Say UN Agencies
Amid a deepening Israel-Palestine crisis, UN agencies have joined forces to issue a compelling plea for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. The objective is to facilitate the delivery of life-saving aid to the conflict-ridden region.
UN relief chief, Martin Griffiths, has fervently reiterated the call for the immediate and unconditional release of over 240 hostages who have been held by Hamas in Gaza since October 7.
International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law in Focus
The UN agencies emphasize that all parties involved must honor their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law. This resounding call comes amidst distressing reports of massive explosions resulting from airstrikes across northern Gaza in recent days. The agencies insist on the protection of civilians and vital infrastructure, including hospitals, shelters, and schools.
An Outrage: Civilians Struggle for Essentials
The joint statement from humanitarian leaders characterizes the loss of large numbers of civilian lives in Gaza as an “outrage.” Equally concerning is the fact that the 2.2 million residents of Gaza continue to face severe shortages of food, water, medicine, electricity, and fuel.
According to the Hamas-run Ministry of Health, the death toll since October 7 has reached a staggering 9,770, with 4,008 children and 2,550 women among the casualties.
A Population Under Siege
In a heart-wrenching detail, the UN Humanitarian Affairs Coordination Office (OCHA) reports that 2,260 people, including 1,270 children, are currently missing in Gaza. Most are presumed to be trapped beneath the rubble.
The UN officials stress the inhumanity of an entire population besieged and under attack, denied access to the essentials for survival, and facing bombings in their homes, shelters, hospitals, and places of worship.
Critical Energy Sources Under Attack
OCHA also reports that Israeli airstrikes in the past few days have destroyed multiple solar panels on the roofs of buildings, particularly in Gaza City. This loss eliminates one of the remaining sources of energy for hospitals, water, and food production, as Israeli authorities continue to ban fuel from entering the Strip.
Attacks on Healthcare Facilities
As of November 4, the UN health agency WHO has reported more than 100 attacks on healthcare, resulting in the death or injury of nearly 1,000 people. The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, expressed his horror at a recent attack on an ambulance convoy outside Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza, en route to the Rafah border crossing for medical evacuations to Egypt. The WHO condemns such attacks, stressing that they may constitute violations of international humanitarian law.
No Safe Haven for the Wounded
With 14 out of 35 hospitals in Gaza now non-operational, more than 23,000 people have sustained injuries in Gaza since October 7 and require medical treatment. OCHA reports that the attack on the ambulance convoy has brought about a complete halt in the evacuation of dual nationals and injured individuals through Rafah.
No further evacuations were reported over the weekend due to the inability of Hamas, Israel, and Egypt to reach an agreement on the safe evacuation of patients from northern Gaza.
Rising Health Concerns Amidst Displacement
Massive displacement, initiated by an Israeli Defense Forces’ order for Gazans to leave Gaza City and the north of the enclave on October 13, has exacerbated an already fragile health situation in Gaza.
More than 700,000 out of the 1.5 million internally displaced people are currently seeking shelter in 149 overcrowded UNRWA facilities. Among the individuals seeking refuge at UNRWA shelters, reports have surfaced of cases involving acute respiratory infections, diarrhea, and chickenpox.
Water Shortages and Sewage Risks
A severe water shortage, particularly in the north of the enclave, raises concerns about dehydration and waterborne diseases due to the consumption of water from unsafe sources. Hits on three sewage pipelines in Gaza City last week pose an imminent risk of sewage flooding, as municipal authorities have warned.
UNRWA Facilities Under Fire
UNRWA deplores the repeated targeting of its shelters by Israeli fire, rendering them unsafe for those seeking refuge. A UNRWA school in Jabalia camp north of Gaza City was directly hit by strikes, resulting in the death of 15 people and injuries to 70.
Despite over 160,000 displaced people seeking shelter in UNRWA facilities before the Israeli evacuation order on October 12, UNRWA is unable to access these shelters to assist or protect internally displaced persons, and they lack information on their needs and conditions.
Since October 7, the agency has mourned the loss of 88 of its staff members, marking the highest number of United Nations fatalities ever recorded in a single conflict.