Donors pledge over $2 bln for Gaza at Kuwait conference

AFP , Sunday 12 May 2024

A conference of international donors in Kuwait pledged over $2 billion in aid to Gaza Sunday as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an "immediate" ceasefire in the Israeli war on Gaza.

Gaza aid conference om Kuwait
(L to R) Bilal Erdogan, son of Turkey s President, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Joyce Msuya, and Chairman of the International Islamic Charity Organization (IICO) Abdullah al-Matouq attend the 9th conference on affective partnership for better humanitarian aid in Kuwait City on May 12, 2024. AFP


The conference, organized by the International Islamic Charitable Organization (IICO) and UN humanitarian coordination agency OCHA, said the funds would be dispersed over two years, with the possibility of an extension.

The initiative is designed "to mobilize efforts to support life-saving humanitarian interventions in the Gaza Strip, and to support the prospects for early recovery for the population", IICO general manager Bader Saud Al-Sumait said.

It would be applied on five different tracks -- "life-saving interventions, shelter, health, education, and economic empowerment," Sumait said as he read the conference's final statement.

Guterres urged an immediate halt to the war, the return of captives held in Gaza, and a "surge" in humanitarian aid to the besieged Palestinian territory.

"I repeat my call, the world's call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, the unconditional release of all captives, and an immediate surge in humanitarian aid," Guterres said in a video address.

"But a ceasefire will only be the start. It will be a long road back from the devastation and trauma of this war", he added.

Israeli strikes on Gaza continued on Sunday after it expanded an evacuation order for Rafah despite an international outcry over its military incursion into eastern areas of the city, effectively shutting a key aid crossing.

"The war in Gaza is causing horrific human suffering, devastating lives, tearing families apart, and rendering huge numbers of people homeless, hungry, and traumatized," Guterres said.

Meeting Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmed al-Sabah, the UN chief accepted an honorary shield "on behalf of the United Nations, and especially on behalf of the almost 200 members of the UN that were killed in Gaza".

On Friday in Nairobi, Guterres warned that Gaza faced an "epic humanitarian disaster" if Israel launched a full-scale ground operation in Rafah.

Gaza's bloodiest-ever war began on October 7, when Israel launched a brutal military offensive that has killed more than 35,034 people up till now, 70% of them women and children, with another 78,755 people wounded, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

* This story was edited by Ahram Online.

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