Aid to Gaza 'requires Israel removing obstacles': Guterres to Shoukry in Cairo

Ahram Online , Sunday 24 Mar 2024

In a press conference in Cairo on Sunday with Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that delivering the necessary aid to famine-threatened Gaza requires Israel to "remove the remaining obstacles and chokepoints to relief."

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (L) gives a joint press conference with Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, following a meeting with him at the New Administrative Capital east of Cairo on March 24, 2024. AFP


Guterres said Palestinians in Gaza need a flood of humanitarian aid not only “mere airdrops” amid the current catastrophe caused by the Israeli war. 

The UN chief remarks come a day after he visited the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing where he stood next to a long line of aid-loaded trucks waiting to enter the besieged Gaza Strip, calling the starvation inside the strip a “moral outrage.” 

Guterres stressed that nothing can be as effective as delivery by land.

This reiterated what he said a day earlier: "It is time for a firm commitment from Israel to allow aid to reach all parts of Gaza."

"What is happening in the strip does not serve anyone, affects the globe, and defies international law and humanitarian principles," he said, noting that nothing justifies the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.

Moreover, the UN chief reiterated his call for an "immediate humanitarian ceasefire" to alleviate "the suffering of Palestinian children, women and men struggling to survive the nightmare in Gaza."

Guterres said the current atrocities in Gaza and the daily assault on the human dignity of Palestinians create a credibility crisis for the international community and challenge international law and basic humanitarian principles.

“It is infuriating to see the war continuing during the holy month of Ramadan, despite global calls,” he added.

Arab-American consensus

For his part, Shoukry said that there is agreement between the Arab nations and the US on the necessity of protecting civilians in the Gaza Strip from military operations.

Both sides also see eye-to-eye on the necessity of moving to a final, just solution to the Palestinian issue.

The humanitarian situation in Gaza requires an immediate ceasefire, Shoukry reiterated, adding “the current situation in Gaza cannot be accepted or persist.”

Egypt’s top diplomat called for respecting international and humanitarian law and taking clear measures to stop the war, urging the major countries to support the UN principles to achieve security and peace.

Israel has killed more than 32,000 Palestinians and injured almost 75,000 since 7 October.

It has also destroyed most of the homes and infrastructure in the strip, leaving the majority of the 2.4 million civilian population on the brink of famine.

The UN Security Council has failed more than once to adopt a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in the strip.

Guterres attributed the UNSC's inability to adopt a meaningful resolution on Gaza to what he called “the geopolitical divisions among the council members.”

Shoukry warned the UNSC and major countries of losing their credibility if the current situation persists.

He said the UN is pressing ahead with efforts to ensure the continuity of the activities of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) despite the killing of several workers of the agency.

He noted that the Israeli charges against the UNRWA do not affect its work.

“We are not against anyone, but rather we work based on values ​​and principles,” he continued.

Obstacles, he noted, do not affect our determination to help the Palestinians, calling for strengthening the UNRWA’s capabilities to play its role towards the Palestinians and to adhere to the UN values.

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