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Humanitarian Emergencies

UN, World Leaders Ramp Up Plans for Gaza Ceasefire and Recovery

UN Secretary-General António Guterres in Jordan. Credit: Mohammad Ali Eid Ali/UN Photo

UN Secretary-General António Guterres in Jordan. Credit: Mohammad Ali Eid Ali/UN Photo

UNITED NATIONS, Jun 13 2024 (IPS) - This week has seen noteworthy steps from the international community to put an end to the ongoing hostilities in the Gaza Strip since the latest war between Hamas and Israel began in October last year.

This week began with the international community converging at a global conference, “Call for Action: Urgent Humanitarian Response for Gaza.” King Abdullah II of Jordan, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, and UN Secretary-General António Guterres organized the conference, which took place in Amman, Jordan, on June 10.

Heads of states and governments and heads of international humanitarian and relief organizations were invited to participate in this conference to determine the course of action needed to address the humanitarian situation in Gaza and recovery efforts for the end of the conflict. Three core issues were the focus of discussion through working groups: increasing humanitarian assistance to Gaza, cementing the conditions for a ceasefire, and supporting early recovery efforts.

The conference demonstrated the international community’s solidarity with the civilians of Palestine who have suffered from the military campaign, along with the humanitarian workers who have risked their lives. The humanitarian situation in Gaza, unfortunately, only continues to deteriorate, especially as basic needs such as food, shelter and sanitation have been repeatedly compromised and experts have warned of disease and famine outbreaks. The healthcare system has been overwhelmed with the intake of patients requiring urgent care, with the shortage of fuel and medical supplies, and with many hospitals losing functionality as a result.

“The horror must stop. It is high time for a ceasefire along with the unconditional release of hostages. I welcome the peace initiative recently outlined by President Biden and urge all parties to seize this opportunity and come to an agreement. And I call on all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law,” Guterres said in his statement on Tuesday.

According to Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths, over 2.5 billion USD will be needed to provide aid to Gaza from April to December 2024. Speaking at the conference, Griffiths also added that preliminary recovery planning was underway with the United Nations Country Team, along with partners such as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). He shared that the working group emphasized UNRWA’s importance in the recovery period, particularly in addressing education, health, and psychosocial support.

“Acting on the outcomes of this conference,” Griffiths said, “It is our solemn task, I suggest, to harness some of that humanity, meet our responsibilities, and finally bring an end to the travesty that has brought such misery to the people of Gaza. I ask for your support in all the follow-up actions that have been identified.”

The international community’s attention to the humanitarian situation in Gaza has led to repeated calls for action to take concrete measures. Earlier this week, the Security Council adopted the United States-drafted resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire. The resolution also breaks down the approach into three phases, emphasizing the need for a permanent end to the hostilities, which would be achieved through the exchange of hostages in Gaza and the complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from the region. The resolution was adopted nearly unanimously, with only one abstention in the vote (Russia).

Riyad Al Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the UN, noted that the resolution was a step in the right direction and was welcomed by the Palestinian leadership, also calling out Israel to take the steps to implement the resolution. “We want to see the end of this onslaught against our people,” said Mansour. “We will continue pursuing justice and accountability through international legal mechanisms, including the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Court (ICC).”

Israel’s representative, Reut Shapir Ben Nafalty, said that the state’s objectives have always been to ensure the return of all the hostages and to stop Hamas, as well as “ensure that Gaza does not pose a threat to Israel in the future.”

“We will continue until all of the hostages are returned and until Hamas’ military and governing capabilities are dismantled,” she said.

As pressure mounts for both sides of the conflict to accept the terms of the ceasefire, the humanitarian situation only continues to put immense strain on aid workers and on impacted civilians. Since October 7, 192 UNRWA staff have been killed. As fighting escalates, organizations such as the World Food Programme announced that they will pause their operations in the floating dock established to provide aid to Gaza until a UN security review can be conducted.

IPS UN Bureau Report


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