UN chief urges countries to do everything possible to end Gazans’ ordeal

Source: Xinhua Editor: huaxia 2023-12-09 03:02:15 UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks at a high-level meeting of the Security Council at the UN headquarters in New York, Nov. 29, 2023. (Eskinder Debebe/UN Photo/Handout via Xinhua)

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) — UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday urged the international community to make every possible effort to bring an end to the suffering of the people in Gaza.

“The people of Gaza are looking into the abyss. The international community must do everything possible to end their ordeal,” the UN chief told the Security Council’s emergency meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

The top UN official said that there is “a high risk of the total collapse of the humanitarian support system in Gaza, which would have devastating consequences.”

Guterres warned that “there is no effective protection of civilians.”

He said that more than 17,000 Palestinians have reportedly been killed since the start of Israel’s military operations, including more than 4,000 women and 7,000 children. Tens of thousands are reported to have been injured, and many are missing, presumably under the rubble.

“Attacks from air, land and sea are intense, continuous and widespread. So far, they have reportedly hit 339 education facilities, 26 hospitals, 56 healthcare facilities, 88 mosques and three churches,” he said.

Over 60 percent of Gaza’s housing has reportedly been destroyed or damaged – some 300,000 houses and apartments. Some 85 percent of the population have been forced from their homes, according to the secretary-general.

Guterres also warned that Gazans are running out of food.

He cited the World Food Programme as saying that there is “a serious risk of starvation and famine.”

In northern Gaza, 97 percent of households are not eating enough. In the south, the figure among displaced people is 83 percent. Half the people of the north and more than one third of displaced people in the south are simply starving, he said.

Children are seen at a temporary shelter in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, Dec. 8, 2023. (Photo by Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua)

The UN chief said that “Gaza’s health system is collapsing while needs are escalating.”

At least 286 health workers have been killed, he said. “Hospitals have suffered heavy bombardment. Just 14 out of 36 are still functioning. Of these, three are providing basic first aid, while the others are delivering partial services.”

The UN chief pointed out that “we are all aware that Israel began its military operation in response to the brutal terror attacks unleashed by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups on Oct. 7.”

“I unreservedly condemn those attacks. I am appalled by the reports of sexual violence,” he stressed.

“There is no possible justification for deliberately killing some 1,200 people, including 33 children, injuring thousands more, and taking hundreds of hostages,” Guterres continued, referring to what Hamas did.

“Some 130 hostages are still held captive. I call for their immediate and unconditional release, as well as their humane treatment and visits from the International Committee of the Red Cross until they are free,” he said, obviously sending a clear message to Hamas.

However, the UN chief said that “the brutality perpetrated by Hamas can never justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”

“The laws of war also demand that civilians’ essential needs must be met, including by facilitating the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian relief,” he said.

“International humanitarian law cannot be applied selectively. It is binding on all parties equally at all times, and the obligation to observe it does not depend on reciprocity,” said the secretary-general.

“I urge the (Security) Council to spare no effort to push for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, for the protection of civilians, and for the urgent delivery of lifesaving aid,” the secretary-general said.

“This is vital for Israelis, Palestinians, and for international peace and security,” said the UN chief.

Xinhua

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