UN says 'all impediments must be lifted' after Israel announcement of Gaza 'pauses' for aid delivery

AFP , Sunday 16 Jun 2024

The UN on Sunday welcomed an Israeli decision to "pause" fighting around a south Gaza route daily for aid deliveries but urged more "concrete measures" to unblock the humanitarian response.

Palestinians collect food aid ahead of the upcoming Eid al-Adha holiday in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Saturday, June 15, 2024. AP


Israel's military announced Sunday a "local, tactical pause of military activity" during daylight hours in an area of Rafah to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance in the war-torn Palestinian territory.

"We welcome this announcement," UN aid agency OCHA's spokesman Jens Laerke said in an email to AFP, noting though that "this has yet to translate into more aid reaching people in need".

"We hope this leads to further concrete measures by Israel to address longstanding issues preventing a meaningful humanitarian response in Gaza."

UN agencies and aid groups have repeatedly sounded the alarm of dire shortages of food and other essentials in the Gaza Strip, exacerbated by overland access restrictions and the closure of the key Rafah crossing with Egypt since Israeli forces seized the Palestinian side in early May.

'Catastrophic hunger'

"The UN and our humanitarian partners are ready to engage with all parties to ensure life-saving assistance reaches those in need across Gaza, where catastrophic hunger is widespread," Laerke said.

"Living conditions for affected and displaced families in Gaza are dire. They urgently need food, water, sanitation, shelter, and healthcare, with many living near piles of solid waste, heightening health risks."

The UN was insisting, he said, that "humanitarian operations in Gaza must be fully facilitated, and all impediments must be lifted".

"We need to be able to deliver aid safely throughout Gaza."

Laerke said that meant ensuring the movement of aid within Gaza, including through checkpoints, "is predictable and expedited".

"It means all roads are operational. It means allowing the regular entry of fuel, which is in critically short supply in Gaza. It means providing the necessary communications equipment and logistical materials, which have long been denied by Israeli authorities," he said.

"And importantly, the issue of rule of law must be addressed immediately," he said, warning that "desperation and scarcity of aid have led to a near-total breakdown in law and order" in Gaza.

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