Trapped Gaza civilians face nightmare of violence and starvation: NRC head

Ahram Online , Thursday 29 Feb 2024

Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) Jan Egeland described the destruction of Gaza and the despair of its people following a visit to the war-torn Palestinian strip.

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Displaced Palestinians gather for food in Rafah, on the southern Gaza Strip on February 28, 2024.AFP

 

“Famine is a growing threat here, as millions of trapped people face a nightmare of violence and starvation,” Egeland stated.

“The children of Gaza are visibly malnourished, reduced to searching the streets for food and assistance. It is unimaginable that an entire population is left to starve while vast amounts of supplies sit waiting just a few miles away across the border,” he added.

Egeland accused Israel of failing to provide or facilitate the delivery of survival essentials for Gaza’s population.

“On my way into Gaza, I passed hundreds of trucks, all unable to reach those in dire need,” he noted.

"Despite the International Court of Justice's ruling over a month ago for Israel to implement effective measures to enable basic services and humanitarian aid, access for trucks has been reduced from January to February.

“Only by ensuring that the Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings, as well as the northern Karni and Erez crossings, are used at full capacity will civilians have a chance of receiving sufficient life-saving aid,” he said.

Egeland warned that any Israeli military offensive on the southern Gaza city of Rafah would lead to mass casualties, where over 1.4 million people take shelter. He stressed that Israel cannot conduct a brutal war in the world’s largest displacement sites against families who have already suffered immensely.  

The NRC secretary-general spoke sharply against Israel supporters, saying Israel's allies, including the US, UK, and Germany, must halt political and military support for warfare that has already claimed more than 30,000 lives.

“Civilians on either side cannot be used as bargaining chips. It is essential that Hamas immediately release all hostages and that Israel lifts the siege on Gaza,” he stressed.  

Egeland demanded that countries supporting the parties to the conflict insist on a ceasefire and full aid access. “The human suffering in Gaza is already beyond belief, and this war on civilians must end immediately,” he pointed out.

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