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World News in Brief: UN aid chief on Rafah, Gaza fuel shortage, rising hunger in Haiti

“With today’s adoption of Security Council resolution 2730 calling for the protection of humanitarian workers and the International Court of Justice’s order to open the Rafah crossing to provide aid at scale and stop the military offensive there, this is a moment of clarity,” he said in a statement.

“It is a moment to demand respect for the rules of war to which all are bound: Civilians must be allowed to seek safety. Humanitarian relief must be facilitated without obstruction. Aid workers and UN staff must be able to carry out their jobs in safety.”

More than a million people were sheltering in Rafah, located in southern Gaza, before the start of the offensive on 6 May.

Mr. Griffiths said the ground incursion “has been a tragedy beyond words”, displacing more than 800,000 people who are fleeing once again and arriving in areas that lack adequate shelter, latrines and clean water.

“It has cut off the flow of aid into southern Gaza and crippled a humanitarian operation already stretched beyond its breaking point,” he said.

Food distributions in the south have been halted, while fuel supply for “Gaza’s lifelines – bakeries, hospitals and water wells”, has slowed to a mere trickle.

Heed the call

“Though Israel dismissed the international community’s appeals to spare Rafah, the global clamor for an immediate stop to this offensive has grown too loud to ignore,” he said, referring to the developments at the Security Council and the UN’s top court on Friday.

“At a time when the people of Gaza are staring down famine; when hospitals are attacked and invaded; when aid organizations are blocked from reaching people in need; when civilians are under bombardment from north to south; it is more critical than ever to heed the calls made over the last seven months: Release the hostages. Agree a ceasefire. End this nightmare.”

Lack of fuel at Gaza hospital puts newborns at risk 

Aid organizations delivered roughly 15,000 litres of fuel to Al Aqsa Hospital in Gaza, the UN humanitarian affairs office, OCHA, reported on Friday.

UN children’s agency UNICEF warned that oxygen generators at the hospital will shut down without consistent delivery of fuel, putting the lives of more than 20 newborns at risk.

“It is critical that more fuel enters Gaza and that humanitarian organizations can work in safety as hostilities intensify,” OCHA said.

Meanwhile, just one hospital in northern Gaza, Al Awda, remains partially functionally but is not accessible.

Gaza’s remaining health facilities are struggling to operate amid ongoing shortages of fuel, equipment and medical items.

Entry of aid supplies into the enclave has been extremely limited since the start of the Israeli military incursion in Rafah governorate nearly three weeks ago.

Just over 900 aid trucks, including about 800 carrying food supplies, have entered Gaza since then.

A child with malnutrition is treated at the Hôpital universitaire Justinien in Cap Haitien, Haiti.
© UNICEF

A child with malnutrition is treated at the Hôpital universitaire Justinien in Cap Haitien, Haiti.

Half of Haiti could go hungry by June

The number of people in Haiti facing high levels of acute food insecurity could reach a record five million, or half of the population, by the end of June,.  

The price of staple food remains high in the capital Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas amidst an already dire food security situation and rampant gang violence, OCHA said.

In mid-April, the cost of the food basket in the Ouest Department, where Port-au-Prince is located, was 20 per cent higher than in January. 

The situation has not improved since, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), noting the resurgence of gang-related violence has put pressure on prices due to a scarcity of essential products.

If domestic agricultural production does not improve and insecurity persists, the price of staple foods is likely to remain high for the rest of this year.

Since early March, the World Food Programme (WFP) has provided hot meals to nearly 100,000 displaced people in 80 sites across the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area.  

 

Sudan: Deteriorating situation in El Fasher, health system collapsing nationwide

The fighting has reportedly forced thousands of people to flee since 10 May and caused hundreds of civilian casualties, UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told journalists in New York.

“Unfortunately, in El Fasher South Hospital – which is the only functioning hospital in that state – only 10 days of supplies are left, with an urgent need to restock the hospital,” he said.

Aid delivery blocked 

The Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have been locked in battle since April 2023. 

The conflict has sparked a humanitarian crisis, with some 18 million people across the country going hungry and five million on the brink of famine.

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Mr. Dujarric said more than a dozen trucks carrying aid for more than 121,000 people have been trying to reach El Fasher for over a month, but have been hampered because of the security situation.

Remove access constraints 

Turning to the wider Darfur region, he said that despite the insecurity and severe access constraints, a truck from the UN World Food Programme (WFP) was able to cross into North Darfur from Chad on Thursday.

The truck carried 1,200 metric tonnes of food and nutrition supplies for some 117,000 people.

“It is critical that these trucks are allowed to safely and directly continue to their destinations in Central and South Darfur,” he said, emphasising the need for both cross-border and cross-line access. 

Health system collapsing 

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the health system in Sudan is collapsing, particularly in hard-to-reach areas, with facilities destroyed, looted or struggling with staff shortages. 

Spokesperson Christian Lindmeier said only around 30 per cent of health facilities are functional “and even so at minimal levels” while medical supplies are meeting only around a quarter of the needs.

Lives at risk 

WHO’s warehouse in Al Gezirah state has been inaccessible since last December, he said, speaking in Geneva. 

“Some states, such as Darfur, have not received medical supplies for the past year,” he added.  

“People suffering from diabetes, hypertension, cancer or kidney failure may experience complications or die from the lack of treatment.” 

Disease spreading 

Meanwhile, disease outbreaks are on the rise. There have already been over 1.3 million cases of malaria, 11,000 cases of cholera, over 4,600 cases of measles, and roughly 8,500 cases of dengue. 

Furthermore, outbreaks of malaria, measles, dengue fever and hepatitis E are also spreading in Chad.

Support and supplies 

To date, WHO has reached nearly 2.5 million people through direct support to services and delivery of emergency supplies. 

Some 50,000 people in Sudan received care in mobile clinics, while some 433,000 Sudanese refugees were treated in mobile clinics in eastern Chad.

Medical supplies have been delivered through cross-border operations from Chad and South Sudan, including trauma and emergency supplies, antibiotics and dengue rapid tests. 

“In the past few months, WHO and partners’ efforts have led to a decline in the number of cases of cholera, dengue, and malaria,” Mr. Lindmeier said. 

Around 4.5 million people have received the oral cholera vaccine in six high-risk states, and teams have delivered supplies for the treatment of 115,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition with medical complications. 

Afghanistan is ‘not a hopeless crisis’, top UN aid official says

Afghanistan is “not a hopeless crisis,” Edem Wosornu of the UN humanitarian affairs office, OCHA, told journalists in New York, following a recent visit to the country, Pakistan and war-wracked Sudan. 

Ms. Wosornu was part of an all-woman delegation in Afghanistan, where the climate crisis has caused widespread water scarcity, generating new food, health, and nutrition needs.  

Overall, 23 million people rely on humanitarian assistance – five times more than in 2019, and over 15 million now face high levels of food insecurity.  Recent deadly floods in central and northern regions have added to the suffering. 

Courageous women colleagues 

Ms. Wosornu said restrictions imposed by the de facto Taliban authorities on Afghan women aid workers have added a layer of complexity to humanitarian operations in Afghanistan. Relatedly, some 1.4 million women and adolescent girls are still under an education ban. 

“While delivering humanitarian assistance, our courageous Afghan female colleagues face many challenges and assume personal risks every day to and from work,” she said. 

Meanwhile, humanitarian partners continue to negotiate with Taliban authorities on the issue.   

Let women work! 

Ms. Wosornu also raised the clampdown in talks with various senior officials, including the Taliban’s economic and foreign ministers, during her four-day visit. 

It was a constant part of my messaging: Afghan women need to work, and it is essential,” she said. 

Asked about the education ban, she said the de facto authorities repeated the message that they need time, to which she responded, “we don’t have time because the numbers speak for themselves”. 

“I was also very clear that the more we wait, the more millions of children will be affected and the more it will impact the society,” she said. 

She also reported that some members of the “de facto authority community…were turning a blind eye to some of the activities that we were doing”.  In some provinces, the UN humanitarians were allowed to move freely. 

“So, there is hope to continue pushing. And the message, as I said before, at all levels was you need to lift these restrictions because we need to do our job in the education sector and the health sector.” 

Remain engaged 

Ms. Wosornu reported that the Afghan people need three things from the international community: continued humanitarian assistance; sustainable solutions, including livelihood and agricultural support, and, finally, to be heard. 

Noting that a $3.6 billion appeal for the country is just 16 per cent funded, she urged the international community to remain engaged in Afghanistan.  

“This is not a hopeless crisis,” she said. “At least I was encouraged to see that the people of Afghanistan continue to fight and push for what they believe in.  The world cannot abandon the people of Afghanistan at this point.” 

Saving lives in Pakistan 

Like Afghanistan, Pakistan has also been hit by recent flooding caused by heavy rains. Ms. Worsonu saw firsthand the impact on agricultural families in Peshawar who have lost their crops and whose children cannot get to school. 

She visited the Government’s emergency centre in the capital, Islamabad, “where they are trying their best to ensure that predictability is key, where they can prevent massive loss of life from the early warning systems”, adding that the authorities have asked for UN support. 

A destroyed building in the Omdurman area of Sudan, where the war that has been ongoing since April 15th has caused widespread destruction to infrastructure.
Nezar Bogdawi

A destroyed building in the Omdurman area of Sudan, where the war that has been ongoing since April 15th has caused widespread destruction to infrastructure.

‘Five-alarm fire’ in Sudan 

She also used the briefing to keep focus on the crisis in Sudan, which she called a “five-alarm fire of the worst kind”.  

Some 18 million people are facing acute hunger after two years of war between the national army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Five million “are a step away from starvation” and the risk of famine is real. Rampant human rights violations have been committed. 

The fighting has forced nine million people to flee to safety, whether elsewhere in Sudan or across the border to countries such as South Sudan, Chad and Ethiopia. 

The UN has repeatedly been pushing for safe humanitarian access and aid delivery, whether across frontlines or borders. 

Ms. Wosornu was asked if she participated in any crossline negotiations, and if progress on this issue can be achieved. 

She said the UN met with the RSF’s so-called civilian arm in Nairobi and with the Government of Sudan in Port Sudan. She expressed hope that the negotiations will be successful, “but what I can tell you is every day we delay in that ability to get across to people, that is when we will lose lives.” 

Increasing disease and humanitarian strain in Gaza amid aid shortages

The UN agency assisting Palestine refugees (UNRWA) is continuing to provide healthcare as best it can but overcrowded shelters and limited sanitation services, coupled with forced displacement, are posing severe health risks, the agency said in a post on X.

Furthermore, safe water is unaffordable for many, and people are resorting to burning trash to cook with, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) added.

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Aid operations ‘near collapse’

There are also serious concerns that humanitarian operations in the enclave “are near collapse”.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) warned in a bulletin that if food and humanitarian supplies do not begin to enter Gaza in “massive quantities”, desperation and hunger will spread.

“The limited functionality of the southern border crossings, key arteries for getting aid in, means that barely any fuel or aid is getting into any part of Gaza. There are currently no food distributions taking place in the south of Gaza except for some limited stocks that are given to community kitchens for hot meals,” it noted.

All bakeries in Rafah have shut down. However, as of Wednesday, the agency was still able to support six bakeries in central Gaza, four in Gaza City and one in Jabalia.

Listen below to an update on the humanitarian situation in Gaza from Shaza Moghraby, WFP Communications Officer:

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Multiple allegations of torture

Also on Thursday, a UN independent human rights expert urged the Government of Israel to investigate multiple allegations of torture and other degrading treatment against detained Palestinians since 7 October last year.

Alice Jill Edwards, Special Rapporteur on torture emphasized that anyone deprived of their liberty must always be treated humanely.

“They must be provided with all protections required under international human rights and humanitarian law, whatever the circumstances of their detention,” she said in a news release.

The Human Rights Council-appointed expert said she has received allegations of individuals being beaten, kept in cells blindfolded and handcuffed for excessive periods, deprived of sleep, and threatened with physical and sexual violence.

Other reports suggest prisoners have been insulted and exposed to acts of humiliation, such as being photographed and filmed in degrading poses, while prolonged use of zip-tie handcuffs has reportedly caused friction injuries and wounds.

Absence of accountability

“I am particularly concerned that this emerging pattern of violations, coupled with an absence of accountability and transparency, is creating a permissive environment for further abusive and humiliating treatment of Palestinians,” Ms. Edwards said.

Listen to UN News’ s interview with the Special Rapporteur here:

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Since the brutal attacks by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups on Israeli communities on 7 October 2023 and the ensuing Israeli military offensive in Gaza, it is estimated that thousands of Palestinians from Gaza as well as the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have been detained – including some children.

Special Rapporteurs are mandated by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council to monitor thematic human rights and country situations. They operate independent of the UN and national governments, are not UN staff and do not draw a salary.

Droughts and floods threaten ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ across southern Africa

The droughts have destroyed harvests in areas where 70 per cent of the population depends on agriculture for survival.

Executive Director McCain said what she has seen has been both alarming and heartbreaking.

“I met farmers who usually grow enough to feed their families and communities. This year they harvested nothing. Now imagine a similar scenario for millions of people throughout Southern Africa, and we have a humanitarian catastrophe,” Ms. McCain said.

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El Niño’s impact 

Though the latest El Niño weather pattern is nearing its end, droughts caused by the weather-changing cycle will have repercussions for months ahead.

Temperatures have dramatically increased resulting in the driest February in decades in the region which caused a 20 per cent reduction in rainfall necessary for crop growth.

According to WFP, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi have been impacted the hardest and have all declared states of drought disaster. They risk significant crop loss with 40 and 80 per cent of their maize harvests decimated.

‘Step up now’: McCain

Recognising that 61 million people were affected by El Niño, Heads of State and Government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) at an Extraordinary Summit launched a humanitarian appeal for US$5.5 billion that will complement the internal resources of the impacted countries.

The team is calling for support to meet these humanitarian needs. Ms. McCain echoes the call for support. 

I’m asking the international community to join us and step up now. We can’t ask millions to wait for the next harvest season – a year from now – to put food on their tables. These families need our support today while we help to build a more resilient future,” she said.

 Major funding shortfall

Though WFP has responded to this crisis, the programme still needs $409 million for six months of aid to benefit 4.8 million people in Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

WFP has been working with governments and partners to help prepare communities for climate disasters before they hit. WFP “unlocked over $14 million of anticipatory finance” to aid over 1.2 million people expected to be impacted by El Niño in August 2023.

They have also offered support to communities in Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe by providing early warning alerts on

“weather risks, anticipatory cash transfers, drought-resistant seeds, agricultural training, and improved water sources.”

WFP continues to work with governments to protect communities affected by climate shocks and in just a few weeks, will distribute about $10 million in insurance payouts to nearly 280,000 affected people over the coming six months.

UNICEF addressing child trauma and displacement in Ukraine’s Kharkiv

Some are children with disabilities along with orphans – all of whom are showing signs of extreme trauma.

In the Kharkiv region, those evacuated are staying at camps for the internally displaced and being given vital assistance by UN agencies, including the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Against this backdrop, UN News spoke with Munir Mammadzade, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine, who has just been in the region, where a Russian advance has driven thousands towards the main city in search of relative safety.  

He described the dire situation and the assistance needed in the immediate and longer term.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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UN News: You just visited Kharkiv. Can you describe the humanitarian situation in the city and around it, given the latest evacuations and intensive attacks over the last weeks?

Munir Mammadzade: So far, close to 11,000 people have been evacuated from the front areas, mostly to Kharkiv City. I visited the humanitarian hub where those evacuated by the government and volunteers are being registered and accessing services offered by UNICEF and other humanitarian organizations.

Children are among those evacuated and require dedicated and specialized support.  

In the humanitarian hub, we established a child-friendly space. We particularly support children in foster families because they are more vulnerable than others. There are also children with disabilities and children who live with disabled parents. I spoke to some of the children who were evacuated to the IDP centre.

The situation is very difficult. Immediate needs are being addressed thanks to the collective response of the UN and partners on the ground. However, there are many challenges that need to be addressed in the medium and long term.

The head of UNICEF in Ukraine Munir Mammadzade (in the center).
© UNICEF in Ukraine

The head of UNICEF in Ukraine Munir Mammadzade (in the center).

UN News: What are the main challenges for children right now?  

Mr. Mammadzade: Each and every relocation or displacement is a lifetime trauma for these children. They have already been traumatized since the escalation of the war. The frontline areas are regularly attacked and shelled, they were already experiencing mental health problems and required support.

They have limited access to education, relying only on online or distance learning. For example, I spoke to a boy who is about to turn 15. He told me he feels okay, everything is fine, but it was clear he is very stressed and requires professional and psychiatric support due to the trauma he has experienced.

He was choked as he was watching videos on social media all the time, and showing me some of the pictures of what is happening there. But the way he was reacting made us conclude that he requires such support.

Children will need immediate and long-term arrangements, such as learning opportunities, growth and development support and access to health services. Although immediate needs are being addressed, we must realize that displaced people and civilians may not be able to return to their homes.  

Host communities will need long-term solutions, but for humanitarians, our resources do not allow for systemic, long-term interventions. We foresee major challenges for over 100 vulnerable children without parental care who live with foster families.  

They now need to be relocated and are getting used to new foster family arrangements without their support network.

There are challenges associated with the services that children rely on, including energy, water and heating infrastructure, which are currently dysfunctional and may continue to be so in the future.

UNICEF kits for evacuated people from Ukraine's Kharkiv region.
© UNICEF in Ukraine

UNICEF kits for evacuated people from Ukraine’s Kharkiv region.

UN News: Given these terrible developments, in your view, how well are people coping with this situation, which have been very hard for them even before these latest events?  

Mr. Mammadzade: I spoke to a mother of three children and asked her what is next for her and the family: does she want to move further away from Kharkiv, relocate elsewhere or potentially even leave the country? She said the only thing she needs is to go back to her home.  

This is what most of the people are saying. I think the major challenge for them would be to accept the new reality and the fact that they cannot return because now the infrastructure that civilians rely on is not there.  

Their houses are destroyed. It is too early for them to accept that fact and realize it all the challenges that they will be going through. Of course, on the ground, we and humanitarian partners are providing psychosocial support.  

We are addressing some immediate threats, but the longer they stay in this limbo, the longer they stay in IDP camps, the more difficult it will be for them to cope.

Ukraine: Evacuees brought to safety as Russian strikes intensify

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, and partners facilitated the transport of some 2,500 people to safety who arrived in the main city of Kharkiv, weary from more than two years of war.

These evacuees – mainly elderly persons or people with disabilities – are extremely vulnerable, said Alexander Mundt, UNHCR Principal Situation Coordinator in Ukraine, who recently returned to the capital, Kyiv from the northeast and plans to go back soon.

Immense loss

“It’s not just that they’re escaping fighting,” he told UN News. They’ve lost homes that they’ll probably never be able to rebuild. They’ve lost literally everything at age 85.”

During a recent briefing, the UN Security Council in New York heard how Kharkiv and other regions, including Donetsk and Sumy, have been under relentless Russian shelling, with power plants and other civilian infrastructure increasingly being targeted.

“There’s a chance in the coming weeks, if the Russian advance can’t be halted, that they could be in artillery range of Kharkiv city, where 1.3 million people live,” Mr. Mundt warned.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

Residents survey the damage in the aftermath of an attack in the city center of Kharkiv, Ukraine.
© IOM

Residents survey the damage in the aftermath of an attack in the city center of Kharkiv, Ukraine.

Alexander Mundt: The situation is truly awful, and the toll on civilians is almost unspeakable. It’s hard to even capture in words the level of trauma that you see among the people getting off the bus.

They’re shaking, they can barely hold a cup of water. They’re so traumatized, they almost can’t speak. The tears come very easily. Even trying to assist them is a chore because they’re just so disoriented by what’s happened to them.

Their villages have been completely destroyed. The level of destruction is immense. There is no question that it’s just targeting civilian infrastructure, targeting people’s homes, with an intent just to destroy lives.

The tragedy is a lot of these people are very elderly, and part of the trauma is they realize they may never go home. Their villages have been completely destroyed. The level of destruction is immense. There is no question that it’s just targeting civilian infrastructure, targeting people’s homes, with an intent just to destroy lives.

On the bright side, the humanitarian response has been amazing. Denise Brown, the Head of the UN in Ukraine and the Resident Humanitarian Coordinator, came out and we had a meeting. One of her comments was that you can really see how far the humanitarian response has come because the level of preparedness and the response is truly extraordinary.

In the transit site, there are 25 or 26 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) providing everything from hot meals to medical care, blankets, referrals for services in the town, helping people find places to sleep and temporary accommodation, providing emergency cash, and legal counseling to replace lost documents.

It’s a really good example of what the humanitarian community can achieve when it works together.

UN News: What is the priority for UNHCR right now in terms of the humanitarian assistance?

Alexander Mundt: Our top priority is to help safely evacuate people, but also to ensure that the humanitarian assistance they are receiving has a lens towards the medium and the longer term. These people aren’t going to go home right away, so what can we do “beyond the blanket”?

How can we help refer some of them to temporary accommodation that is sustainable in the long term? How can we help them recover from trauma? How can we ensure there are psychologists and trauma counsellors available?

What can we do in terms of legal assistance that will make sure they can continue to receive their pensions while they’re in displacement? All of this has to come together.

I think the other point is, particularly for the elderly people who are alone, they’re coming in with their neighbours from the villages.

We really need to focus on what we can do to make sure that their temporary accommodation is with people they know, because imagine if you’re an elderly woman or elderly man and you’ve lost everything, and now you’re put in a place in isolation.

Our focus really has to be on the protection elements of making sure that people can regain agency, can feel a bit of hope, and can recover from the trauma they’ve just experienced, in addition to all of the things the humanitarian response normally entails.

Residents access the damage following attacks in the city center of Kharkiv, Ukraine.
© IOM

Residents access the damage following attacks in the city center of Kharkiv, Ukraine.

UN News: How are people coping in this situation?

Alexander Mundt: I think it’s different because [more than 10,000] have been evacuated from frontline areas now under direct assault by Russian Federation forces. Many self-evacuated, so probably about 3,000 people came out on buses with support. And these were the truly vulnerable.

Of the other 7,000, many people relocated to Kharkiv city. They have family there; they have a support network to some extent already in place.

This is not to suggest that they don’t need support in the medium and long term, but they have coping mechanisms that are in place that give us a bit of time to try to figure out how to address their needs.

For the 3,000 that came out in buses, I think their level of vulnerability is extraordinarily high, and their coping mechanisms are quite weak. I don’t mean to suggest that they’re not resilient people, but I think they’re going to need lots of support and social accompaniment to access services, and basically just to find a way through what is a very dark period.

It’s not just that they’re escaping fighting. They’ve lost homes that they’ll probably never be able to rebuild. They’ve lost literally everything at age 85. Every time I see these people coming off the buses, I think of my own grandmother, or what if this were your family, because it very much could happen to anybody.

Climate crisis fuels deadly floods, worsening hunger in Afghanistan

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said that as erratic weather on the back of the worsening climate crisis “becomes the norm”, things will only get worse.

This month’s unusually high rainfall followed a dry winter, rendering the ground too hard to absorb water, leading to massive flooding. Unseasonably warm temperatures further complicated the situation by melting mountain snow, causing rivers to overflow and inundating villages with mud.

“With one disaster after another hitting these communities, they are being pushed back into destitution. Recent improvements in food security in Afghanistan now risk being lost,” said Hsiao-Wei Lee, WFP Country Director for Afghanistan.

These families need emergency assistance to survive, and in the longer term, they need investments in community infrastructure that help protect their homes, lands and livelihoods.”

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Severe destruction

Floods last week due to heavy rains caused severe destruction in Ghor and Faryab provinces, in northwest Afghanistan. Over 130 people are reported to have died, hundreds more are missing, and thousands of houses and businesses have been destroyed or damaged.

Access is also a major challenge with many villages cut off and humanitarians are struggling to reach affected regions.

As search and rescue operations continue, the number of casualties is expected to rise, highlighting the urgent need for more international support and intervention to address the growing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

On 10-11 May, the northeast was struck by heavy rains and flash floods, affecting Badakhshan, Baghlan and Takhar provinces. At least 180 people are confirmed to have been killed and a further 280 injured.

WFP response

In immediate response to the floods, WFP provided fortified biscuits and nutritional supplements to children, and worked with local bakeries to distribute bread to the hardest-hit communities.

By the end of last week, the agency began distributing food rations and cash assistance in functional market areas.

For its ongoing response, WFP requires an additional $14.5 million to cover emergency food and nutrition assistance and resilience building projects.

To mitigate future disasters, it is investing in climate adaptation projects, including the construction of protective walls, dams, and irrigation canals.

Notably, a WFP-supported flood wall in Baghlan protected 670 families and 400 acres of agricultural land during the heavy rains.

DiCarlo in Afghanistan

Meanwhile, on the political front, Rosemary DiCarlo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, visited Afghanistan from 18 to 21 May, where she met Taliban officials, members of the diplomatic community in Kabul and representatives of civil society.

According to UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric, discussions focused on the meeting of Special Envoys on Afghanistan, which the UN is organizing in the Qatari capital, Doha, on 30 June and 1 July.

The meeting aims to increase international engagement with Afghanistan in a more coherent, coordinated and structured manner.

“She extended to the de facto Minister of Foreign Affairs, Amir Khan Muttaqi, an advance invitation from the Secretary-General to participate at the forthcoming meeting of Special Envoys,” Mr. Dujarric told journalists at the regular press briefing in New York.

Taliban leaders did not attend the last round of the meeting, held in February.

Gaza: WHO chief calls for end to latest hospital siege

“Medical staff inside the hospital reported an attack on 20 May, with snipers aiming at the building and an artillery rocket hitting the fifth floor,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on X.

Some 148 staff and 22 patients and their companions have remained “trapped inside” the hospital since Sunday, the WHO Director-General added, before issuing an appeal for their protection.

Evacuation order impact

According to the WHO, only around one third of Gaza’s 36 hospitals still function, leaving critical health care facilities “inaccessible” to patients and healthcare workers impacted by the violence or evacuation orders.

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In the southern city of Rafah, Israeli military orders telling Gazans to move have affected more than 20 medical points, four hospitals and four primary healthcare centres, the UN health agency noted. 

In northern Gaza, meanwhile, 16 medical points have been impacted, as well as five primary healthcare centres and Kamal Adwan Hospital, in addition to Al-Awda Hospital.

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In a social media post on X on Sunday, WHO’s Tedros raised the alarm about reports of intense hostilities in the vicinity of Kamal Adwan Hospital, coupled with an influx of injured patients, despite the facility’s limited ability to treat them. 

At least 900,000 Gazans uprooted

In a related development, the UN aid coordination office, OCHA, reported that the ongoing Israeli military operation and evacuation orders have uprooted well over 900,000 in the last two weeks – some four in 10 Gazans.

This includes 812,000 people from Rafah and more than 100,000 others in northern Gaza, with hundreds of thousands experiencing dreadful living conditions.

“Humanitarian partners working to provide shelter to people in Gaza report that there are no tents and very few shelter items left for distribution,” OCHA said.

Camping on roads

“People displaced from Rafah are currently seeking shelter in Khan Younis and Deir al Balah on any open land available, including access roads and agricultural land, as well as in damaged buildings that have not been structurally assessed.”

To date, more than 75 per cent of the Gaza Strip – some 285 square kilometres – is under evacuation orders amid escalating hostilities, the UN agency said. “Under international humanitarian law, civilians – whether they move or stay – must be protected. Wherever they are in Gaza, their essential needs, including food, shelter, water and health, must be met.”

No let up in violence

The escalating fighting has severely disrupted nutrition support services in the north and south, the OCHA update continued, noting that access had been lost to more than 100 food distribution points in Rafah alone. 

Meanwhile, humanitarian partners working to provide water, sanitation and hygiene support in Gaza said that there are shortages of hygiene kits and water containers for households to collect and store water, which are critical for people who are forcibly displaced.

More generally, the desperate lack of basic services after more than seven months of war have fuelled severe acute malnutrition among Gazans, exacerbating already serious concerns about a “further surge” in communicable diseases and dangerous hunger levels, OCHA warned.

With Gaza on the brink, hostage talks must resume, Security Council hears

Tor Wennesland, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, underscored the need for continuing the vital discussions, which have been supported by Egypt, Qatar and the United States.

If talks do not resume, I fear for the worst for the beleaguered and terrified civilians in Rafah, for the hostages held in unimaginable conditions for more than 225 days, and for an overstretched humanitarian operation that remains on the brink in the Gaza Strip,” he said.

‘Immediate priority, saving lives’

Over 1.2 million Palestinians displaced from elsewhere in Gaza have been sheltering in Rafah, with over 810,000 displaced again since the Israeli military offensive there began on 6 May.

“Saving lives and addressing the critical needs in Rafah and Gaza more broadly must remain our immediate priority,” Mr. Wennesland stressed.

“At the same time, we must not lose sight of the risks that these immediate threats pose to prospects for a resolution to this conflict and for longer term peace and stability in the region.”

Edem Wosornu, Director of Operations at OCHA, briefs the Security Council.
UN Photo/Manuel Elías

Edem Wosornu, Director of Operations at OCHA, briefs the Security Council.

‘Running out of words’

Also briefing ambassadors, Edem Wosornu, Director of Operations at the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), highlighted the dire humanitarian situation in Rafah and the wider Gaza Strip.

To be frank, we are running out of words to describe what is happening in Gaza. We have described it as a catastrophe, a nightmare, as hell on earth. It is all of these, and worse,” she said, adding that the situation deteriorates by the day.

More than 35,000 people have been killed and 79,000 wounded, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health.

‘Committed to stay and deliver’

Ms. Wosornu underscored that the UN and relief partners “are committed to staying and delivering”.

She welcomed the aid shipment via the floating dock set up by the US, adding however, that due to the current closure of the Rafah crossing and limited access via Kerem Shalom and Rafah, humanitarians lack the supplies and fuel “to provide any meaningful level of support”.

The senior OCHA official reiterated that civilians, their houses and the infrastructure they depend on must be protected, and that rapid, unimpeded passage of aid into and within Gaza must be facilitated.

She also highlighted the need for sufficient funding, particularly for the UN agency assisting Palestine refugees (UNRWA) “the central pillar of our aid operation”.

‘Deadly consequences of inaction’

In his briefing, Mr. Wennesland emphasized that a lasting solution in Gaza requires a “fundamentally political” approach.

He highlighted the importance of the new Palestinian Government, which includes eight ministers from Gaza, and its potential to unify Gaza and the West Bank politically, economically, and administratively.

Urging the international community to support the new Government, the senior UN official also underscored the urgency of establishing a viable political framework to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and achieve a two-State solution.

Day after day we are witnessing the deadly consequences of inaction. Now is the time to lay the foundations for a better future for Palestinians, Israelis and the broader region. The UN will continue to support all such efforts,” he concluded.

Special Coordinator Tor Wennesland briefing the Security Council.

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