UN humanitarian chief warns of ‘apocalyptic’ consequences of blocking aid to Gaza

UN humanitarian chief warns of ‘apocalyptic’ consequences of blocking aid to Gaza
UN humanitarian chief warns of ‘apocalyptic’ consequences of blocking aid to Gaza

The blockage of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip could have “apocalyptic” consequences, UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths warned on Sunday, warning of the risk of famine in the besieged Palestinian territory. and devastated by more than seven months of war between Israel and Hamas.

“If the fuel runs out, if the aid does not reach the people who need it, the famine that we have talked about for so long and which is looming, will no longer be a threat. She will be present,” he declared in an interview with AFP, on the sidelines of a meeting with Qatari officials in Doha.

“Hard, difficult and apocalyptic” consequences

“Our concern, as citizens of the international community, is that the consequences will be very, very harsh. Harsh, difficult and apocalyptic,” added the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs.

The operations carried out by Israel on the ground in the town of Rafah, south of Gaza, despite an international outcry, have worsened a catastrophic humanitarian situation in the territory ruled by Hamas and already subject to a blockade for fifteen years.

According to Martin Griffith, around fifty aid trucks can reach northern Gaza daily via the Erez crossing, which has reopened. But fighting near the Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings in the south of the territory means these vital routes are “blocked”. “So the aid arriving by land to the south and to Rafah, as well as to the people displaced from Rafah, is almost zero,” he explained.

“800,000” Palestinians “forced to flee” Rafah

According to the UN, some “800,000” Palestinians have been “forced to flee” Rafah since the Israeli evacuation order on May 6, a day before Israeli tanks entered.

The situation in the overcrowded city, which lacks fuel, food and medicine, is “exactly what we feared it would be”, said Martin Griffiths. “We have all said very clearly that an operation in Rafah is a disaster in humanitarian terms, a disaster for the people already displaced in Rafah. This is now their fourth or fifth trip.”

The temporary jetty set up by the United States near the Gaza beach made it possible to bring “a few trucks of aid”, but it cannot replace land routes, insisted the UN official.

“An angry world”

Arab leaders meeting in Bahrain on Thursday called for the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping force in the Palestinian Territories and called for an international conference to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of the two-way solution. States.

The declaration published at the end of the Arab League summit is “very important because it focuses on the future”, commented Martin Griffiths, stressing that a “certain number of conferences” were already envisaged to discuss the humanitarian situation in Gaza, particularly in Jordan.

“I am convinced, and I know that the Secretary-General is too, that the UN must be present at the table,” said the UN humanitarian chief. However, he was cautious about the possibility of sending peacekeepers to the Palestinian Territories, stressing that such a mission would have to be approved by the members of the UN Security Council and accepted by the parties to the conflict.

“An angry world”

The United Nations announced in March that Martin Griffiths would leave office in June for health reasons.

The British diplomat said he had observed in recent years that “the rules which had been difficult to develop, since the creation of the United Nations (…) but especially over the last two decades, seem to have been put aside”.

“There is no consensus on the methods of dialogue and negotiation or mediation, which must, in my opinion, be given priority. So we have an angry world,” he lamented.

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