UN chief 'appalled' as Gaza conflict defies Ramadan

AFP , Monday 11 Mar 2024

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Monday he was "appalled" by the war continuing in Gaza despite the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Antonio Guterres
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Photo courtesy of UN


Speaking after the failure of attempts to negotiate a ceasefire, Guterres called for "silencing the guns" in Gaza and warned that "hunger and malnutrition" are taking hold.

"This is heartbreaking and utterly unacceptable," Guterres told reporters.

"I am appalled and outraged that conflict is continuing in Gaza during this holy month," he said, adding that "all obstacles" to aid delivery should be removed.

The United Nations says that lack of humanitarian aid means famine is a growing risk in Gaza, where 2.4 million people are under near-total siege by the Israeli military.

The war, started on October 7 has resulted in the deaths of 31,112 Palestinians, 70% of them women and children, according to the health ministry in Gaza.

US President Joe Biden called for a temporary ceasefire ahead of Ramadan but his call went unanswered as Muslims in Gaza marked the start of the one-month holiday Monday.

Guterres said, "The eyes of history are watching."

"We cannot look away. We must act to avoid more preventable deaths," Guterres said.

"We have witnessed month after month of civilian killing and destruction at a level that is unprecedented in all my years as Secretary-General," he said.

But aid "is coming in trickles - if it comes at all. International humanitarian law lies in tatters."

* This story was edited by Ahram Online.

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