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Toll of Israel-Palestine crisis on children ‘beyond devastating’

UN relief chief Martin Griffiths, who has been visiting Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, spoke to families in Gaza over the phone from east Jerusalem on Tuesday and said that what they have endured since the start of Israel’s retaliation for Hamas’ deadly 7 October attacks is “beyond devastating”.

When an eight-year-old tells you that she doesn’t want to die, it’s hard not to feel helpless,” he wrote on social platform X.

Hostages’ families ‘living in agony’

On Monday Mr. Griffiths met in Jerusalem with family members of some of the more than 230 hostages held in Gaza since 7 October. Reportedly about 30 of them kidnapped by Hamas terrorists are children.

The UN relief chief said that for the past weeks these families “have been living in agony, not knowing if their loved ones are dead or alive”, and that he couldn’t “begin to imagine” what they are going through.

The UN has repeatedly called for the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages.

‘Unbearable’ thought of children buried under rubble

Reportedly more than 3,450 children have been killed in Gaza according to the Hamas-run Ministry of Health, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) spokesperson James Elder told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday.

Another 1,000 children have been reported missing and may be trapped or dead under the rubble, awaiting rescue or recovery, UN humanitarian affairs coordination office OCHA said.

OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke said that it is “almost unbearable to think about children buried under rubble with very little possibility for getting them out”.

An 11-year-old boy stands at the entrance to his home in Gaza City.
© UNICEF/Mohammad Ajjour

An 11-year-old boy stands at the entrance to his home in Gaza City.

Decades of trauma ahead

“Threats go beyond the bombs and mortars”, UNICEF’s James Elder stressed. Infant deaths due to dehydration are “a growing threat” in the enclave as Gaza’s water production is at five per cent of the required volume due to non-functioning desalination plants which are either damaged or lack fuel.

When the fighting finally stops, the costs to children “will be borne out for decades to come”, he said, due to the horrific trauma faced by survivors.

I do not have the luxury to think about my children’s mental health – I just need to keep them alive

Mr. Elder cited the example of a UNICEF staffer’s four-year-old daughter in Gaza who has started self-harming because of the daily stress and fear, while her mother told colleagues, “I do not have the luxury to think about my children’s mental health – I just need to keep them alive”.

Humanitarian ceasefire essential

Mr. Elder reiterated calls, “on behalf of the 1.1 million children in Gaza living through this nightmare”, for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and opening of all access points for sustained entry of humanitarian aid.

“If we had a ceasefire for 72 hours, this would mean a thousand children would be safe again for this time,” he said.

Aid ‘a fraction of what is needed’

On Monday, a total of 26 trucks carrying humanitarian supplies entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing with Egypt, OCHA’s Jens Laerke said, with the hope that more trucks will enter on Tuesday.

This brings the total number of trucks allowed through the crossing from 21 to 30 October to 143.

OCHA stressed that while the increase in the volume of aid entering Gaza in the past two days is welcome, “current amounts are a fraction of what is needed to prevent further deterioration in the already-dire humanitarian situation, including civil unrest”. Before the escalation close to 500 trucks, both commercial and humanitarian, would enter the enclave every working day, including some 50 trucks of fuel.

Briefing the UN Security Council on Monday, Mr. Griffiths spoke about the urgency of replenishing fuel supplies, “vital for powering most essential services, including hospitals and water desalination plants, and to transport humanitarian relief inside Gaza”.

Attacks on healthcare

The public health catastrophe in the enclave is being compounded by attacks on health. UN health agency (WHO) said that it has documented 82 in Gaza so far.

OCHA warned that the vicinities of two hospitals in Gaza city and northern Gaza were reportedly bombarded for the second consecutive day on Monday, prompting Mr. Griffiths to share his concern with the Security Council over “allegations of military installations in the close vicinity of hospitals and the request by Israeli authorities for hospitals, including Al Quds and Shifa, to be evacuated”.

A young boy plays in the street amidst the wreckage of homes destroyed by airstrikes in Al Shati Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip.
© UNICEF/Mohammad Ajjour

A young boy plays in the street amidst the wreckage of homes destroyed by airstrikes in Al Shati Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip.

Protect medical facilities ‘at all times’

In response to a question over these allegations, UN human rights office (OHCHR) spokesperson Liz Throssell reiterated on Tuesday that hospitals are protected buildings under international humanitarian law.

If proven, the use of human shields in hospitals would amount to a war crime, she said. However, “regardless of the actions of one side, for example using hospitals for military purposes, the other side must comply with international humanitarian rules on the conduct of hostilities” which extend special protection to medical units at all times, she insisted.

Where medical units lose their special protection as a result of being used outside their humanitarian function to commit acts harmful to the enemy, and where a warning for the harmful use to cease has gone unheeded, “still, any attack must comply with the principles of precautions in attack and proportionality”, Ms. Throssell explained.

UN Security Council meets on Israel-Palestine crisis; no place is safe in Gaza says UNRWA chief

The Council meeting has ended, and here are the key points of the day focused on the UN’s humanitarian effort:

Meeting Highlights

  • UAE and China called for the emergency meeting after Israel expanded its ground operations into Gaza over the weekend
  • Philippe Lazzarini, head of UNRWA, briefed ambassadors on the dire humanitarian situation in the ravaged enclave, stressing women and children cannot be “collateral damage”
  • UNICEF chief Catherine Russell outlined the impact on children on both sides who are experiencing terrible trauma, “the consequences of which could last a lifetime”
  • Lisa Doughten, senior UN humanitarian official from OCHA, underscored the need for a pause in the fighting to provide respite for desperate civilians “living under unimaginably traumatic conditions”
  • Security Council members recalled Friday’s General Assembly resolution on the crisis, reiterating that international humanitarian law must be respected
  • On Tuesday the General Assembly continues its emergency special session on the crisis, expected to reconvene at 3 PM New York time

For a reminder of how the Security Council works during a crisis and negotiates resolutions or ends up in deadlock, visit our explainer here.

7:10 PM

Israel: We’ll defend ourselves against annihilation

Gilad Erdan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN, said the agricultural villages in southern Israel invaded by Hamas terrorists were peaceful, akin to his grandparents’ village in Transylvania.

Ambassador Gilad Erdan of Israel addresses the UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.
UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Ambassador Gilad Erdan of Israel addresses the UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

“Entire communities were exterminated, only this time the murderers were Hamas Nazis. Entire Israeli families were turned into smoke and ash – no different than the fate my grandfather’s family met in Auschwitz,” he said.

“The brutality of the crimes is not the only thing that the savage Hamas Nazis share with the German Nazis. They both share a common ideology,” he added, to “exterminate the Jews”.

Ambassador Erdan said that the “Ayotallah regime” in Iran “is the modern Nazi regime, and their death squads include Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, Houthis, Revolutionary Guard, and other savage jihadists.”

“Just like the Nazi regime, the Ayotallah regime sows death and destruction everywhere it touches,” he said.

Mr. Erdan noted that over 250,000 Israeli civilians have been displaced since their war on Hamas began on 7 October and that millions more are living under constant and indiscriminate rocket fire “at the hands of Hamas, Hezbollah and other jihadists”.

“Does this Council not have anything to say about this? Is this not also part of the situation in the Middle East?” he said, accusing the Security Council of being “silent” when atrocities are committed against innocent Jewish civilians, including children.

“Some Member States have learned nothing in the past 80 years. Some of you have forgotten why this body was established, so I will remind you, from this day on each time you look at me, you will remember me what staying silent in the face of evil means,” he said, adding “just like my grandparents and the grandparents of millions of Jews, from now on my team and I will wear yellow stars.”

The Ambassador stood up and placed a yellow star on his suit, along with his delegation.

“We will wear this star, until you condemn the atrocities of Hamas and demand the immediate release of our hostages,” he declared, adding “we walk with a yellow star as a symbol of pride, a reminder that we swore to fight back to defend ourselves.”

Ambassador Erdan said antisemites “have been empowered”, and that they are calling for the killing of Jews in several countries around the world. He asked if the Security Council would stand by silently as the hatred against Jews grows, and if it would “take the approach of Chamberlin to appease the Nazis and its sympathizers”, or rather model Britain’s war leader Winston Churchill “to fight evil with blood, toil, tears and sweat.”

He stressed that the Israeli people are strong, “we are unbreakable, and we are going nowhere”.

“Many have tried to destroy us, the Babylonians, the Greeks, the Romans and the Nazis, to name just a few, but none have succeeded. And the Iranian Reich will be no different,” he said, adding “Israel will prevail, God willing. We will bring our hostages home, and the citizens of the Jewish State will live in peace and freedom.”

6:10 PM

Palestine: ‘Gaza is now hell on Earth’

Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the observer State of Palestine, thanked the UN agency briefers for their “moving calls” for action from the field, in a bid to save more Palestinian lives in Gaza.

Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, addresses the UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.
United Nations

Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, addresses the UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

He said the UN’s call for 100 trucks a day needed to be heeded.

They are the best face of the UN, he said, expressing appreciation for the Secretary-General’s call for a humanitarian ceasefire at the gates of the Rafah crossing last week.

He told ambassadors “Gaza is now hell on Earth.” 

“Saving humanity from hell today means for the UN to save Palestinians in Gaza,” he said, providing a snapshot of life on the ground there, with more than half the population forcibly displaced, constantly moving and being killed wherever they go.

He said half the homes in Gaza are now damaged or destroyed, with over 1.4 million forcibly displaced. “Virtually all of our people in Gaza are displaced”, sleeping in cars, the streets, “and still being killed wherever they go”.

“A leaked document prepared by the Israeli Intelligence Ministry…confirms that in fact relocating Palestinians from Gaza to tent cities in Sinai is not a threat we imagined but a reality Israel is trying to impose,” he said, noting that more than 8,000 Palestinians have been killed to date, including over 3,000 in the south of Gaza, where Israel has pushed – forcibly transferred – hundreds of thousands of people.

“These staggering figures keep rising with every minute that action is delayed to stop the onslaught against our people,” he said, emphasizing that one figure explains the magnitude of this “manmade tragedy”: 3,500 Palestinian children have been killed by Israel in just three weeks, more than the annual number of children killed across the world’s conflict zones since 2019, according to Save the Children.

“Every five minutes, a Palestinian child is killed,” he said, asking Council members how many more days they will wait to say “enough, paralysed, not acting to carry out your duty”, to recognize this is a war against children. “Our children who are, like yours, children of God, children of light. The angels on Earth. Enough darkness, enough death.”

The UN General Assembly, “representing the countries of the world, adopted a resolution grounded in humanity, morality, legality and the rejection of double standards”, he added, while calling for an immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce.

He said humanitarians had acted, but there was one important body still not acting: “it is you”.

He said a truce “must happen immediately”, emphasizing that the Council must follow the Assembly’s example and its wisdom and uphold its responsibilities to put an end to the bloodshed. “Thousands more lives hang in the balance.”

It is clear that the Council’s latest draft resolution enjoyed broad support, with 11 votes in favour, three abstentions and one against, he said, adding that the text must serve as basis for a clear and unequivocal position of the Council at this critical juncture.

“Do what the bigger body is doing” he implored, referring to the General Assembly’s non-binding vote on Friday demanding a truce.

Palestinians in Gaza “face death every day and every night,” he said. “Save them. Look at them as human beings”.

He said humanitarians from agencies and in hospitals should be allowed to work, free from the risk of death by bombing.

“Show respect for our inherent dignity, not in words but in deeds, in action…No one should justify our killing or find reasons to give more time to the killer. Call for an end of this assault on an entire nation.”

He also called for an end to the killings in the West Bank by settlers and occupation forces and the forced displacement underway there.

“We have said time and time again there is no military solution to this conflict,” he said. “We are yet to demonstrate there is a peaceful one.”

He called on ambassadors to finally make a two-State solution a reality, and “push the occupation to an end.”   

“Every minute counts. Every minute is the difference between life and death for Palestinians in Gaza.”

5:35 PM

Russia: Humanitarian pauses, not enough

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said the time has come to call things out by name – a catastrophe of “biblical proportions” is happening, with the death toll rising by the hour.

Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia of the Russian Federation addresses the UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.
United Nations

Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia of the Russian Federation addresses the UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

The scale of losses at UN agencies is shocking, he said. The largest hospital in Gaza is being threatened, nine hospitals are unusable and civilian casualties are growing, as Gaza has been cut off from the rest of the world.

Only 94 aid trucks got into the enclave, with Israel stymying efforts and despair growing in Gaza, he said, recalling recent ground operations.

“Despite the unambiguous reaction around the world, West Jerusalem has begun the practical implementation of its plan to clear the enclave,” he said.

Due to the US position, the Council has been paralyzed, he said. The unprecedented scale of the conflict is happening at a time when neighbouring Syria is being subjected to strikes by the US. These actions by Washington are illegitimate and such attacks could provoke an armed escalation in the entire region.

“No humanitarian pauses will help,” he said. “Humanitarian assistance cannot be provided in the height of hostilities on the ground; I hope that everyone here understands that.”

The priority now is to stop the bloodshed and move the situation into the diplomatic sphere with the aim of realizing the UN-endorsed two-State solution, he said, asking why certain Council members did not support a ceasefire.

Given the current situation, the Council should now commit to regular briefings on the matter, he said.

4:58 PM

US: ‘We must do everything possible to save lives’

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the lives of all humanitarian workers and all civilians, Israeli and Palestinian, must be protected. Dozens of rockets continue to fall in Israel, hostages remain held captive, and Gaza’s people are suffering.

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield of the United States addresses the UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.
United Nations

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield of the United States addresses the UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

“International humanitarian law must be respected,” she said, recognizing Israel’s right to self-defence and expressing concerns about the uptick in attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank.

“Lives hang in the balance and we must all step up, as the United States has done,” she said, noting Washington’s contributions to humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank. The US continues to work with Israel, Egypt, the UN and partners to speed the passage of aid into Gaza.

“We must do everything possible to save lives,” she said, urging Member States to work to prevent any spillover of the crisis. “This is a matter of international peace and security and this Council must speak out.”

Recalling the vetoed Council resolutions since 7 October, she said the General Assembly’s new resolution was missing two words: Hamas and hostages. Indeed, it was shocking that Hamas’ actions were not condemned by the Assembly, she said.

Even at this difficult moment, we must keep hope alive towards a future where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace,” she said. “This is not the future Hamas wants to see, but it is the future that we must all work to advance together.”

4:50 PM

China: Inaction by Council is ‘green light’ to continued escalation

China’s Ambassador, Zhang Jun, said an overwhelming majority in the UN General Assembly had supported a humanitarian pause last Friday during the emergency special session but Israel has “turned a deaf ear to all this” by beginning its ground assault on the enclave.

Ambassador ZHANG Jun of China addresses the UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.
United Nations

Ambassador ZHANG Jun of China addresses the UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

Gaza has been under blockade for “16 long years” and the 2.3m innocent people of the enclave are now living in “utter fear”. If left unchecked, he said, the situation will spiral further out of control and a greater catastrophe will be inevitable.

The Middle East peace process, he stressed, is now “on the brink of collapse.” Cease all hostilities, set a humanitarian truce in place and prevent escalation, he said.

He called on Israel to lift its siege, rescind the evacuation order and restore supply of basic necessities.

The ambassador called for intensified diplomatic efforts to secure hostage releases and return to the track of a political settlement.

He called on both sides to “abandon your blind faith in force” and commit to an end to the cycle of violence.

He warned the violence could not be contained, saying there could be a military catastrophe which would engulf the whole region.

Addressing fellow Council members he said Gazans did not need more parroting of promises, rather “concrete actions” which could bring peace, reestablish the rule of law and save civilian lives.

“Inaction”, he said, is tantamount to a green light for the violence to continue, warning that history will record the Council’s choice.

Air strikes continue in Gaza.

Air strikes continue in Gaza.

4:40 PM

United Arab Emirates: ‘Unambiguous call’

Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the UAE to the UN, recalled the resolution adopted by the General Assembly on Friday, supported by 121 countries – an overwhelming majority of the world – issuing an “unambiguous call” for an immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce in Gaza.

Ambassador Lana Zaki Nusseibeh of the United Arab Emirates addresses the UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.
United Nations

Ambassador Lana Zaki Nusseibeh of the United Arab Emirates addresses the UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

“They stood for up for the humanitarian imperative, for human rights, for international law, and, most importantly, for the self-evident truth that Palestinian life is precious, equal and deserving of the full protection of the law,” she said.

Ms. Nusseibeh said Security Council members repeatedly expressed their concern about the fraying of the international order.

“If we lean on the General Assembly’s moral responsibility in other settings, we must also respect it in this one,” she said, noting that “this Council, ignoring the expressed will of the majority of the world, [is] maybe what breaks it.”

She reiterated that a ceasefire is needed now, as is ensuring safe, sustained and at-scale humanitarian aid reaches Gaza, and that access to electricity, clean water and fuel is restored.

Ambassador Nusseibeh went on to note that while our eyes have been trained on Gaza, the occupied West Bank has not been spared from violence either.

“Israeli settlers are escalating their attacks against Palestinian civilians and forcing their displacement. These attacks must be prevented by the State of Israel,” she said, adding that across the region, there have been several credible warnings of a wider escalation.

“The drums of war are beating,” she said, urging Security Council members to take the warnings seriously.

“We do not serve Israel’s security by enabling it [the war] to go on. We cannot reverse the heinous 7 October attacks by condoning this war in which civilians are playing the price,” she noted, adding “ignoring what could happen day after day will have devastating consequences – not only for Israelis and Palestinians but for the prospects peace and stability in our region.”

4:10 PM

Devastating and heartbreaking: Senior OCHA official

Lisa Doughten, Director of Resource Mobilization at the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said the events that have unfolded since 7 October have been “nothing short of devastating and heartbreaking.”

“We do not forget the 1,400 people killed and thousands more injured and taken in the brutal Hamas attack. Indiscriminate rocket-fire continues from Gaza into populated areas of Israel, causing more civilian casualties, displacement and trauma,” she said.

All hostages must be released immediately and unconditionally,” she said.

Ms. Doughten added that the situation for the more than two million people trapped in the Gaza Strip is simply “catastrophic.”

“They have now endured a siege and continuous bombardment for 23 days. According to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, more than 8,000 people have been killed […] tens of thousands more have been injured,” she added.

Nowhere safe for patients

She said she was deeply concerned by allegations that Hamas had placed military installations in the close vicinity of hospitals and the call by Israeli authorities for hospitals to be evacuated.

“There is nowhere safe for patients to go, and for those on life support and babies in incubators, moving would almost certainly be a death sentence,” she said.

Ms. Doughten reiterated the need for a pause in the fighting on humanitarian grounds.

Doing so will provide a pause for humanitarians and those in need, as well as safe passage for hostages to be released. It will allow UN staff to replenish supplies, relieve exhausted personnel, and continue assistance throughout Gaza wherever civilians are in need.

“It would also provide much-needed respite to civilians who are living under unimaginably traumatic conditions,” she said.

4:01 PM

Trauma for a lifetime: UNICEF chief

Also briefing the Council, Catherine Russell, Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said the “true cost” of the latest escalation will be measured in children’s lives.

More than 420 children are being killed or injured in Gaza each day – a number which should shake each of us to our core,” she said.

WHO in Gaza reported 34 attacks against health care facilities, including 21 hospitals and 12 of Gaza’s 35 hospitals can no longer function, she said.

At least 221 schools and more than 177,000 housing units have been damaged or destroyed and clean water is quickly running out, with 55 per cent of related infrastructure requiring repairs or rehabilitation.

“As if this wasn’t enough, children in both Israel and the State of Palestine are experiencing terrible trauma, the consequences of which could last a lifetime,” she said. “We are doing our best to reach all children in need, but the delivery of humanitarian aid, especially Gaza, is now extremely challenging.”

Most concerning is the current siege conditions and the “highly dangerous circumstances” under which staff are operating, she said.

Make no mistake, the situation grows worse by the hour and without an urgent end to the hostilities, I am deeply afraid for the fate of the region’s children

“Make no mistake, the situation grows worse by the hour and without an urgent end to the hostilities, I am deeply afraid for the fate of the region’s children,” she said.

Council resolution essential

“But we and you have the power to help lift children out of this spiral of violence,” she said. “I implore the Security Council to immediately adopt a resolution that reminds parties of their obligations under international law, calls for a ceasefire, demands that parties allow safe and unimpeded humanitarian access, demands the immediate and safe release of all abducted and detained children and urges parties to afford children the special protection to which they are entitled.”

The Security Council should also prioritize what is now a worsening displacement crisis, with more than 1.4 million people in Gaza, the majority of whom are children, now displaced.

We must have humanitarian access through all crossing points into the Gaza Strip

“We must have humanitarian access through all crossing points into the Gaza Strip, through safe and efficient supply routes,” she said, also calling for a reversal of measures taken by Israel to cut electricity, food, water and fuel from entering the enclave from Israel.

“On behalf of all the children caught in this nightmare, we call on the world to do better,” she said. “Children do not start conflicts, and they are powerless to stop them. They need all of us to put their safety and security at the forefront of our efforts, and to imagine a future where all children are healthy, safe, and educated. No child deserves any less.”

3:45 PM

‘No place is safe’: UNRWA chief

Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN relief agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), spoke first.

He said almost everybody in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory – and in the broader region – is in mourning.

He said the level of destruction across Gaza “is unprecedented, the human tragedy unfolding under our watch is unbearable.”

Despite half the population of Gaza being told to evacuate south by Israeli authorities significant numbers of Gazans have been killed as they sought sanctuary.

“I have said many times and I will say it again: no place is safe in Gaza”, said the UNRWA chief. 

This “forced displacement” has left more than 670,000 in overcrowed UNRWA schools and basements.

Mr. Lazzarini went on to note that nearly 70 per cent of those reported killed are children and women: nearly 3,200 children have been killed in Gaza in three weeks, surpassing the number of children killed annually across the world’s conflict zones since 2019.

“This cannot be ‘collateral damage’,” he stressed, adding that Israel is carrying out “collective punishment”.

He outlined a dire humanitarian situation in Gaza Strip, with medicines, food, water and fuel running out, adding that panic pushed thousands of desperate people to UNRWA aid warehouse and distribution centres.

“A further breakdown in civil order will make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the largest UN agency in Gaza to continue operating. It will also make it impossible to bring in convoys,” he stressed.

UNRWA staff ‘only glimmer of hope’

Mr. Lazzarini highlighted the deep impact of the crisis on the staff of his agency – 64 of whom have been killed since 7 October – but continue to valiantly discharge their humanitarian duties faced with overwhelming challenges and having lost relatives and friends

“My UNRWA colleagues are the only glimmer of hope for the entire Gaza Strip, a ray of light as humanity sinks into its darkest hour,” he said.

The head of UNRWA also emphasized that the “handful of convoys” being allowed through the Rafah crossing is “nothing compared to the needs” of over two million people trapped in the enclave

“The system in place to allow aid into Gaza is geared to fail unless there is political will to make the flow of supplies meaningful, matching the unprecedented humanitarian needs,” he stressed.

Another crisis is unfolding in the West Bank including East Jerusalem

Also in his briefing, he reiterated that while the focus is on Gaza, “another crisis is unfolding in the West Bank including East Jerusalem.”

Palestinian fatalities this year are the highest since the UN started to keep records in 2005, he said, noting at least 115 Palestinians have been killed since 7 October, including 33 children.

The movement restrictions imposed across the West Bank are impacting our services, including schools and health centres, he said, noting also that the situation on the Israeli-Lebanese border is getting worse, with regular exchanges of fire and civilian casualties reported.

3:43 PM

Israel, Palestine and Jordan are being invited to take part. 

3:41 PM

The emergency meeting of the Security Council on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza called by the United Arab Emirates and China, has just begun.

3:00 PM

The Security Council session for the afternoon has begun, but it’s meeting first over the situation in Western Sahara, and then will meet to consider the UN Verification Mission in Colombia.

The emergency meeting was reportedly called for by China and the United Arab Emirates, the sole Arab nation on the 15-member Council, after Israel expanded its operations into Gaza over the weekend.

The head of the UN agency supporting Palestine refugees (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini, and a senior director from the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Lisa Doughten (on behalf of relief chief Martin Griffiths), are expected to brief ambassadors, along with the head of the UN Children’s Fund, Catherine Russell.

Extensive destruction has been caused by Israeli airstrikes in the north of Gaza.

Extensive destruction has been caused by Israeli airstrikes in the north of Gaza.

In a sign of civil order starting to break down in the ravaged enclave, UN-operated aid warehouses were raided this weekend by thousands of desperate people who took wheat flour, hygiene supplies and other basic survival goods.

Meanwhile, hospitals in northern Gaza are hanging on by a thread, according to humanitarians, amid “repeated evacuation orders” by Israeli forces. Medical staff working there and civilians seeking shelter have reportedly refused to leave, saying evacuation would mean death for patients on ventilators and in intensive care units.

On Friday, the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favour to adopt a resolution on the crisis, calling for an “immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities.”

So far since the crisis erupted with the Hamas terror attacks of 7 October and retaliatory bombardment of Gaza by Israeli forces, two Russian resolutions have been struck down either through the veto or failure to gain enough support.  

A Brazilian resolution was also vetoed by the United States.

The Security Council in a crisis: Explained

For a reminder of how the Security Council works during a crisis and negotiates resolutions or ends up in deadlock, visit our explainer here. 

‘Stop the madness’ of climate change, UN chief declares

Nepal has lost almost a third of its ice volume in 30 years, with glaciers melting 65 per cent faster in the last decade than in the previous one.

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“The rooftops of the world are caving in,” the UN chief said, warning that the “disappearance of glaciers altogether” looms even larger.

“Glaciers are icy reservoirs – the ones here in the Himalayas supply fresh water to well over a billion people. When they shrink, so do river flows,” he added.

Communities erased forever

Glaciers high in the Himalayas feed large river systems, sustain crops, livestock and local economies, in a region that is home to over 1.8 billion people.

However, with rising global temperatures on the back of climate change, glacial snow ice compressed over centuries is melting faster than ever – not only in the Himalayas, but also in crucial areas such as Antarctica and Greenland.

Mr. Guterres warned that in the future, major Himalayan rivers like the Indus, the Ganges and Brahmaputra, could have massively reduced flows and in combination with saltwater, decimate delta regions.

“That spells catastrophe: Low-lying countries and communities erased forever,” he said.

End fossil fuel age

The Secretary-General said his mission to the Everest region, was to “cry out from the rooftop of the world.”

“Stop the madness,” he emphasized, underscoring the need to end the age of fossil fuel to protect people on the frontlines of climate change induced destruction.

“We must act now to…limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C, to avert the worst of climate chaos. The world can’t wait,” he concluded.

Official visit to Nepal

The UN chief is on an official visit to Nepal at the invitation of the Government.

On Sunday, speaking to the media alongside Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Mr. Guterres extended deep condolences to the families of the 10 Nepalese students killed in the terror attacks by Hamas in Israel on 7 October.

He reiterated his call for the protection of all civilians in Gaza, and renewed his appeal for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages and the delivery of a sustained humanitarian relief at a scale that meets the needs of the people of Gaza. 

Upcoming COP28 summit must ‘respond decisively’ to gaps in global climate action

Ms. Mohammed, delivering opening remarks to a preparatory meeting, or Pre-Cop, being held in Abu Dahbi, underscored that the next UN climate summit was being convened at a critical moment in the fight against the climate crisis.

The summit’s main outcome is under the so-called Global Stocktake, and it needs to respond decisively to the alarming findings of science and the existing gaps in mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage, said the deputy UN chief.

The Global Stocktake is the handle given to the sequence of UN-facilitated meetings and events held over the past year to enable countries and other stakeholders to see where they have – or have not – been making progress toward meeting the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The Pre-COP in Abu Dhabi aims to help countries lay the groundwork for negotiations at the next global climate summit, the 28th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), known by its shorthand COP28.

According to the organizers, as the last formal ministerial engagement before COP28, the Pre-COP is a key opportunity for the world to unite behind a collective ambition to transform the global response to the climate crisis.

The two-day preparatory meeting brings countries together exactly one month before COP28, which will run in Abu Dhabi from 30 November to 12 December.

‘Our common challenge’  

For his part, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Simon Stiell acknowledged that the Pre-COP was taking place at a time of serious conflict and strife in several parts of the world.  

“It is a difficult and yet critical time for multilateral engagement; and a time of anxiety,” he said, and emphasized: “Let us be united by the knowledge that climate change is our common challenge, and that here, we will all benefit from the solutions, and we will all suffer from the failure to find them.”

“With all due respect to our predecessors in this process,” he continued, “the vagueness of yester-year’s agreements has left us in a haze of lack of clarity in what exactly must happen globally in all sectors and systems that will deliver the change that our collective agreements have already committed us to.”  

The Executive Secretary said: “The world wants to know exactly how fast we are going and in exactly which direction. If climate ambition is our north star, we need a clear path charted north, not a few degrees Northwest, with a vague suggestion that there are gaps and more has to be done…or else we’ll end up in the Greenland Sea.”

Immediate de-escalation ‘only antidote’ to conflict in Syria

Briefing the Security Council, Geir Pedersen said the country had been in a “strategic stalemate” since March 2020, with the brutal conflict now marked by static front lines, persistent violence, and sporadic escalation in fighting.

De facto authorities are strengthening control, while foreign armies remain active, he told ambassadors.

The lack of a meaningful political process has led to growing instability and violence, making the situation now highly dangerous, Mr. Pedersen warned. 

In addition to the internal conflict, Syria faces the alarming possibility of a wider escalation in violence widens since the 7 October terror attacks by Hamas. 

Spillover has begun

“Spillover into Syria is not just a risk; it has already begun,” he said, citing the recent airstrikes, attributed to Israel, that have hit Aleppo and Damascus airports several times, temporarily halting the UN’s Humanitarian Air Service operations from there.

Syria has experienced its worst violence surge in over three years, resulting in civilian casualties, injuries, and infrastructure damage. Government-controlled areas have seen intensified attacks, including unclaimed attacks on a military academy in Homs and rocket attacks by extremist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, leading to civilian casualties.

Bombardment from the Government side in the northwest has meanwhile reached levels reminiscent of the pre-2020 conflict, displacing over 120,000 civilians and causing damage to critical services and infrastructure, the envoy said.

The northeast has recently witnessed a significant escalation following a terrorist attack in Ankara, with Turkish strikes and and civilian casualties.

Meanwhile, the terrorist group ISIL remains active, carrying out attacks on various fronts.

Stop the suffering

In the past month, Mr. Pedersen said, Syrian civilians have endured significant suffering: a worsening economy, degraded infrastructure, reports of arrests and rights abuses, no progress on those detained and missing individuals, and unsafe conditions for refugee returns.


A woman sits in a shelter for displaced people after fleeing her home in northern Syria.
© OCHA/Bilal Al Hammoud

A woman sits in a shelter for displaced people after fleeing her home in northern Syria.

“The only antidote would be an immediate de-escalation to stem the tide of violence and to refocus on a credible political process that charts a path forward in a framework that fully respects and restores Syria’s sovereignty, unity, independence and territorial integrity, and that enables the Syrian people to realize their legitimate aspirations,” the envoy stressed.

Mr. Pedersen warned the international community against complacency, noting that “the already-fraying status quo may fully collapse.” 

“We must de-escalate and de-escalate now, for the sake of Syria,” he urged.

Humanitarian operation impacted

Also addressing Security Council members, Edem Wosornu, the Director of Operations and Advocacy at UN humanitarian aid coordination office, OCHA, said the serious escalation in hostilities in the north had had a deep impact on humanitarian workers and operations, particularly in the northwest.

Three aid workers were among those killed, and many organizations were forced to temporarily suspend their operations.

Hostilities have also damaged critical services and infrastructure, including more than 40 health facilities, two dozen schools and some 20 water systems; and temporarily affected the main power station in Idlib. 

Ten months into this year, Ms. Wosornu said, the Syria Humanitarian Response Plan is less than 30 per cent funded, and without additional funding, OCHA fears that many will go without the support they need to get through the harsh winter months.

“This is a deeply concerning time for the region and indeed for the world”, she told ambassadors, briefing from Cairo. Her trip to the region also included a visit to Syria.

“But with more than 15 million people in need of critical humanitarian and protection support in ever more challenging conditions, the situation in Syria is one that unquestionably demands our continued focus and action”, she concluded.

World News in Brief: ICC slams ‘unacceptable threats’, DR Congo displacement, UNEP ‘Champions of the Earth’

ICC President Piotr Hofmański was presenting the independent court’s annual report to the UN in New York. The ICC was established in July 2002 under a treaty known as the Rome Statute and is based in The Hague, in the Netherlands.

Mr. Hofmański noted that he himself, along with Prosecutor Karim Khan was on the list, which includes six judges of the court.

‘Unprecedented attack’

“This is an unprecedented attack on the judicial independence at the international level”, he said, noting that in investigation allegations of serious crimes and issuing arrest warrants for the Russian President and his Commissioner for Children’s Rights, the court was acting fully within its mandate.

Mr. Hofmański said he was “very appreciative of the strong support we have received” from States Parties to the court, and others.

“Ukraine has made a declaration under article 12 of the Rome Statute, accepting the ICC’s jurisdiction. Therefore, in accordance with the Statute, the ICC has jurisdiction over alleged crimes committed in Ukraine regardless of who the alleged perpetrators are, and what their nationality is.”

Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute and the consent of any country facing allegations of serious crimes is not required, he stressed. Neither is there any immunity from prosecution based on political seniority. 

“The Judges and the Prosecutor of the ICC are simply carrying out their mandate as elected officials of an international court with 123 States Parties. I find it unacceptable that my colleagues and I should be subjected to intimidation for that reason”.

He added he was “gravely concerned by a recent cyber-attack” which took place targeting the court’s information systems.

DR Congo displacement nears 7 million, warns UN migration agency

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the number of internally displaced has reached a record 6.9 million amid escalating conflict, with humanitarian needs soaring, the UN migration agency (IOM) said on Monday.

IOM stressed that the DRC is facing “one of the largest” internal displacement and humanitarian crises in the world and that the most recent escalation of the conflict has “uprooted more people in less time, like rarely seen before”.

Four in every five internally displaced persons live in the eastern provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu, Ituri, and Tanganyika. In North Kivu alone, up to one million people have been displaced due to the ongoing conflict with the rebel group M23. 

The UN migration agency said that teams have been actively involved in managing 78 displacement sites hosting over 280,000 people, providing residents with essential supplies, water, sanitation and hygiene assistance as well as psychosocial support. 

The agency aims to support an additional 50,000 people in the next three months but its operations in the DRC remain underfunded by more than 50 per cent. 

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UNEP announces 2023 Champions of the Earth

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has unveiled this year’s Champions of the Earth. Honourees include a city mayor, a major non-profit, a social enterprise and a research council for innovative solutions produced to beat plastic pollution. 

Since its inception in 2005 the annual Champions of the Earth award has been given to trailblazers at the forefront of efforts to protect both communities and the planet.

It is the UN’s highest environmental honour. UNEP received a record 2,500 nominations this cycle.

“Plastic pollution is a deeply concerning strand of the triple planetary crisis”, said Executive Director Inger Anderson.

“For the sake of our health and planet, we must end plastic pollution. This will take nothing less than a complete transformation to reduce the amount of plastics produced and eliminate single use plastics”.

She added that reuse systems have to be put in place and alternatives “that avoid the negative environmental and social impacts”.

“As negotiations to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution progress”, she added, “this year’s Champions of the Earth demonstrate that innovative solutions are available that can inspire us to rethink our relationship with plastic.”

Tackling climate mis/disinformation: ‘An urgent frontier for action’

Scientists agree that climate change is real and is caused by unsustainable human activity such as the burning of fossil fuels, yet certain actors continue to spread mis- and disinformation, creating harmful misperceptions that can stifle effective climate action.

Climate action is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

In a discussion Tackling mis/dis-information: An urgent frontier for action, the UN’s Senior Adviser on Information Integrity, Charlotte Scaddan, talked with three climate experts at the SDG Media Zone about why pushing back on misleading facts about climate is a priority.

She spoke to Vanessa Nakate, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Goodwill Ambassador and climate activist; Jake Dubbins, co-founder of Conscious Advertising Network and member of Climate Action Against Disinformation, and The Weather Channel meteorologist Paul Goodloe.

Scientists agree that climate change is being caused by human activity.
Unsplash/Joshua Coleman

Scientists agree that climate change is being caused by human activity.

Jake Dubbins: We define climate mis- and disinformation in three broad buckets. Outright denial: we know that climate change is happening and we know it’s caused by humans, but that fact itself is being denied. There are climate scams and climate hoaxes, terms which are trending on social media platforms. The second area that we look at is emissions and cherry picking, so choosing data without giving the full picture to therefore mislead people. And then the third area is effectively false solutions, so suggesting actions that are not in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.

We did some polling last year at COP 27 and we found that these messages are cutting through in multiple different countries. We asked questions in six different countries and found that 23 per cent of people in America believe that climate change is a hoax cooked up by the World Economic Forum. We found that over 20 per cent of people in all the six countries we surveyed believe that climate change is not caused by humans.

Vanessa Nakate: Moreover, fossil fuel companies knew that their actions were disrupting our climate and yet, they continued with those actions and they tried to hide that information from the public.

I see that as climate disinformation and greenwashing, as well. We’ve seen it in the fashion industry and how many corporations are doing so much to show the public that they are actually sustainable. And yet, when you look at their supply chain processes, you realize that they are actually non-sustainable. They’re still harming communities, they’re still harming people, they are exploiting labour.

Paul Goodloe: Climate change is not opinion. Unfortunately, there are news outlets that report the misinformation/disinformation about climate change and they veil it as news, but it’s truly opinion. At The Weather Channel, we don’t have a stance. Our mission is to educate, to inform. We talk about the science.

The burning of fossil fuels is driving climate change.
© Unsplash/Patrick Hendry

The burning of fossil fuels is driving climate change.

Jake Dubbins: There’s increasing information about this problem in English in North America and in Europe, but there are gaps. Most of the US social media platforms fund quite a lot of research into climate mis/disinformation in the US, but not as much in other parts of the world. So, in Africa, Asia and South America, the gap is big.

Vanessa Nakate: Personally, and I think also for the different young people within the activist movement, we find ourselves in situations where we have to give hope to people.

We have to give hope to leaders and to the whole world. It’s a huge responsibility as everyone expects us to provide so much hope and yet, no one is giving us the hope, even with the work that young people are doing within the climate movement.

We need our leaders, we need corporations, the public to give hope to young people as well because activism can be exhausting. Many have experienced burnouts struggling with their mental health because of climate change.

We’ve been speaking and we need the world to listen.

In Sudan, climate change is putting further pressure on the country's already scarce water resources.
UNEP/Yousif Babeker Eltayeb Bila

In Sudan, climate change is putting further pressure on the country’s already scarce water resources.

Jake Dubbins: A couple of years ago at COP26, we collected climate activists, climate leaders and businesses to effectively write a letter demanding that climate misinformation was dealt with by the UN, but also by social media platforms. Two years ago, there were no policies on climate misinformation on tech platforms. There are now climate misinformation policies across most of them, other than X, formerly known as Twitter.

Advertisers don’t want their adverts next to climate change denial, next to the harassment of activists or by hate speech. So, advertisers who invest their money and literally fund most of the media environment also have a choice. They can choose to invest their money in great climate science, great journalism or they can invest their money in climate denial and hate speech.

Paul Goodloe: It’s all about being on the right side of history. Fifty to 60 years ago, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King was disapproved of by 75 per cent of Americans. Now, he’s viewed with 90 per cent approval 50 years after his death. So, just be on the right side of history. What’s going to happen 30, 40, 50 years from now? Just keep trying to push and I’m optimistic that more people will get on the right side of history.

Gaza hospitals hanging on by a thread: UN humanitarians

The vicinities of Shifa and Al Quds hospitals in Gaza city and of the Indonesian hospital in northern Gaza, have been bombarded over the weekend, UN humanitarian affairs coordination office OCHA said.

“This followed renewed calls by the Israeli military to evacuate these facilities immediately,” OCHA added.

Evacuation remains ‘impossible’

According to OCHA, some 117,000 displaced people are sheltering in the 10 hospitals still operational in Gaza city and elsewhere in northern Gaza, which have received “repeated evacuation orders” in recent days.

UN health agency WHO reiterated overnight on social platform X that “evacuation of hospitals is impossible without endangering patients’ lives”.

Scenes of damage at the Al Ahli Arab Hospital in the north of the Gaza Strip.

Scenes of damage at the Al Ahli Arab Hospital in the north of the Gaza Strip.

Humanitarians keep working

Emergency C-sections are being performed without anaesthesia amid shortages of medical supplies and power, and doctors are sometimes left delivering the premature babies of dying mothers, UN sexual and reproductive health agency UNFPA said, citing harrowing testimony from Shifa Hospital staff.

The UN agency for Palestine refugees, UNRWA, said on Monday that its aid workers in Gaza “keep going”, providing assistance to over 600,000 people who have sought safety in UN Palestine refugee relief organisation (UNRWA) shelters, now more than three times over capacity.

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“They are the face of humanity during one of its darkest hours,” UNRWA said.

The agency held a memorial service on Sunday for 59 of its personnel killed in the conflict so far and UN chief António Guterres stressed his “gratitude, solidarity and full support” to colleagues working to save lives in Gaza while risking their own.

Death toll keeps rising

As of Sunday evening the death toll in Gaza since 7 October passed the 8,000 mark, according to the Hamas-run Ministry of Health in Gaza.

OCHA also said that Palestinian armed groups’ indiscriminate rocket firing towards Israeli cities and towns continued over the past 24 hours, with no fatalities reported.

According to the Israeli authorities, 239 Israelis and foreign nationals, including some 30 children, remain captive in Gaza and 40 people are still reported missing following Hamas’ terror attacks on Israel on 7 October which killed 1,400 people.

The UN has repeatedly called for the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages. Mr. Guterres repeated on Sunday that “there is no justification, ever, for the killing, injuring and abduction of civilians”.

Listen to a UN News interview from 25 October with a senior World Health Organization (WHO) official from last week on the challenges faced getting medical supplies into Gaza:


Much more aid needed

OCHA said that on Sunday “at least 33 trucks” carrying water, food, and medical supplies entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing with Egypt, the largest such delivery since limited convoys resumed on 21 October.

“While this increase is welcome, a much larger volume of aid is needed on a regular basis to prevent further deterioration in the dire humanitarian situation, including civil unrest,” OCHA stressed. Before the 7 October Hamas attacks, close to 500 trucks a day reportedly entered Gaza.

Over the weekend – amid UN relief team warnings that people are already going hungry in Gaza – thousands of people broke into several UNRWA warehouses and distribution centres, taking wheat flour, hygiene supplies and other items.

At the same time, a telecommunication blackout lasting over 24 hours cut Gazans off from the rest of the world and from each other. UNRWA’s Operations Director, Tom White, described the development as “a worrying sign that civil order is starting to break down after three weeks of war and a tight siege on Gaza”. 

OCHA stressed once again that the entry of fuel, which has not been allowed on the aid trucks, is “urgently required” to operate medical equipment and water and sanitation facilities.

Israel-Palestine crisis has ‘reached an unprecedented level of dehumanisation’: Independent rights expert

In an interview with UN News, UN Human Rights Council-appointed expert Francesca Albanese, said it was “impossible to describe the pain and suffering that Israelis are going through because of what happened to them…because there are not only those who were killed, those who were taken hostage, but there is an entire population that was completely shaken”.

But describing the UN chief’s words to the Security Council last Tuesday when he noted that the brutal attacks by Hamas fighters of 7 October “did not occur in a vacuum” as “brave”, she stressed Gazans have “already suffered five deadly wars…during the period Israel has declared an unlawful blockade over the Gaza Strip, entrapping 2.2 million people.”

And since 7 October “they have been recklessly bombarded with an average of 6,000 bombs launched per week,” she added.

Protecting children

Over 7,700 Palestinians have been killed since the Israeli bombing campaign began, with more than 19,740 injured, said the UN aid coordination office (OCHA) on Saturday, according to the Hamas run Ministry of Health in Gaza.

Children’s Fund UNICEF reported earlier in the week that nearly 2,400 children were among the dead in Gaza, with women and children accounting for 66 per cent of the casualties.

“All schools have been targeted one way or another”, said Ms. Albanese.

“Schools have been hit by the bombings, hospitals have been hit by the bombings” and there has been a tightening of the blockade. “Israeli leaders, one way or another, are blaming and holding all Palestinians in Gaza responsible and are punishing all Palestinians in Gaza for what Hamas and other military groups have done”, she added.

Mourners attend the funeral of people who died following Israeli strikes in Gaza.

Mourners attend the funeral of people who died following Israeli strikes in Gaza.

Occupying power

The independent human rights expert also criticised Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian lands and the mistreatment of Palestinians. 

“We are talking of an occupying power. Israel is an occupying power vis a vis the Palestinians. There is no independent and sovereign Palestinian state,” said Ms. Albanese.

“The occupation has been the vehicle to colonise, brutalise, arbitrarily arrest and detain and to carry out summary executions against the Palestinian people.”

The occupation has been the vehicle to colonise, brutalise, arbitrarily arrest and detain and to carry out summary executions against the Palestinian people.

She criticised the international community for not doing more to end the illegal occupation.

“Has the international community ever stopped this protracted illegality? No. This is why I keep on saying the international community has a huge, huge responsibility in the catastrophe that is now unfolding.”

Right to self-defence

The rights expert highlighted that both Israel and Palestine maintain the right to defend themselves militarily, although this response must remain proportional to the perceived threat.

“There was an incursion in Israeli territory that resulted in the killing and brutalization of Israeli civilians so that incursions had to be repelled,” said Ms. Albanese.

She argued that, once the attack was successfully repelled, however, the subsequent bombings of targets in Gaza represent violations of international law.

“What Israel is doing is considered by some Member States legitimate self-defence, which it is not. Because how can it be self-defence, the bombing, the carpet bombing of an entire population under a very opaque and vague objective of eradicating Hamas?”


Right to resistance

The right to resist is guaranteed under international law, although this resistance does have limits. The rights expert emphasised that, despite Palestinians’ right to resist Israeli occupation, Hamas’ attack on civilians violated the right to resistance.

“Resistance has rules and limits, and they are the same that apply to any warring parties. So, each actor engaging as part of the resistance becomes responsible for the choice of actions and methods of engagement. And killing civilians is never permitted under international law.”

Extensive destruction has been caused by Israeli airstrikes in the north of Gaza.

Extensive destruction has been caused by Israeli airstrikes in the north of Gaza.

Legitimate targets?

Ms. Albanese criticised the Israeli government’s continued dehumanisation of Palestinian civilians.

How can you hold a newborn responsible?

“It manifests in the statements of various Israeli political leaders who have referred to the Palestinians as human animals, as deserving the treatment they are receiving because they are all responsible for what Hamas is doing, otherwise they would have revolted against Hamas. As if that hadn’t happened,” she said.

“[Israeli politician] Naftali Bennett has inferred that there are no civilians in Gaza, that even babies become a legitimate target. How can it be? How can it be? How can you hold a newborn responsible?”

International failures

The international community has failed to provide adequate support for ending hostilities between Israel and Palestine, argued Ms. Albanese.

“What the international community had an opportunity to do, for once, was to show support to both the Israeli and Palestinian people. It was horrific what the Israelis have suffered as of the 7th of October, and at the same time, the international community missed the opportunity to act wisely and even-handedly, vis a vis both in a way that could be seen as leading to peace.”

She also criticised Western countries for their unwavering support of Israel despite its human rights violations.

You can stand in solidarity with the Palestinians and still condemn the atrocities that Hamas has committed. This is necessary.

“Western countries have, with a few exceptions, rallied around Israel, basically supporting what Israel is doing, self-defence. What Israel does should be in line with international [law]. But it’s not.”

Ms. Albanese also called on the Arab world to condemn Hamas’ targeting of civilian targets while still expressing their support for Palestine.

“There is a huge mobilisation in the Arab world in solidarity with the Palestinians. At the same time, I want to say to those in the Arab world, you can stand in solidarity with the Palestinians and still condemn the atrocities that Hamas has committed. This is necessary.”

‘Many more people are going to die’

The Special Rapporteur lamented the situation, claiming many more would die if more was not done to immediately end the conflict.

I feel for their present, but I also fear for the future, for the Palestinians and Israelis.

“Many more people are going to die in Palestine, in the occupied Palestinian territory, for sure. This is not going to stop, and genocidal intentions have to be addressed.

“I really fear for what the Palestinians are going to face, and I also fear for the future of these two people. I feel for their present, but I also fear for the future, for the Palestinians and Israelis.”

Independent experts

Special Rapporteurs and other independent rights experts are part of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, work on a voluntary and unpaid basis, are not UN staff, and work independent of any government or organisation.

UN seeks end to ‘colossal’ humanitarian tragedy as Sudan’s military factions resume Saudi-hosted talks

The Jeddah talks cannot have started soon enough. More than six months since the start of the crisis in Sudan, the humanitarian tragedy in the country continues to unfold unabated,” UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths in a statement issued on Sunday.

While he welcomed the resumption of the talks and thanks Saudi Arabia for hosting them, Mr. Griffiths underscored the dire situation: “Thousands of people have been killed or injured. One in nine people has fled their homes. Nearly one-third of the population could soon become food insecure.”

Conflict broke out in Sudan in mid-April, when tensions between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Force erupted into open warfare in the capital, Khartoum, and elsewhere across the east African nation. 

 ‘Colossal’ humanitarian crisis  

The UN emergency relief chief went on to say that Sudan’s health system is in tatters, with the specter of disease outbreaks, including cholera, looming. Moreover, a generation of Sudanese children risk missing out on a full education.

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Mr. Griffiths stressed that the humanitarian community is doing everything possible to meet these ever-increasing needs.  

“Since mid-April, we have provided assistance to 3.6 million people, but this represents only 20 p er cent of the people we hope to help,” he explained, noting that humanitarian workers “are paralyzed by fighting, insecurity and red tape, making the operating environment in Sudan extremely difficult.”

This is why these Jeddah talks are critical: We need the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces to break the bureaucrat“ic logjam,” he stated.

Mr. Griffiths, who is also the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, added: “We need them to fully adhere to international humanitarian law. We need them to secure safe, sustained and unhindered access to people in need, be it in Darfur, Khartoum or the Kordofans.”

In light of the “colossal humanitarian crisis”, Mr. Griffith said that the UN office he heads up, known as OCHA, will facilitate the humanitarian aspect of these negotiations.

Comprehensive ceasefire needed

Meanwhile, the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) also welcomed the resumption of talks in Jeddah, which are being facilitated by Saudi Arabia, as well as the United States, the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

In a press release, the Mission said that it hoped “this new round of negotiations results in the implementation of the Declaration of Commitment to Protect the Civilians of Sudan, signed on May 11, 2023, and in a comprehensive ceasefire, all of which are two crucial factors in alleviating the suffering of the Sudanese people.”

The mission also welcomed current initiatives from a wide range of civilian actors calling for an end to the war, emphasizing the urgent need for a solution that would lead to a resumption of the democratic political transition.

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