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In Nairobi, Guterres reiterates appeal for end to Gaza war

Speaking at a press conference in Nairobi, he warned that “the fate of Palestinians and the entire region hangs in the balance.” 

More than a million Palestinians are crowded into Rafah Governorate in southern Gaza as Israeli military operations continue throughout the area. Roughly 100,000 people have left and are moving north. 

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“A massive ground attack in Rafah would lead to an epic humanitarian disaster and pull the plug on our efforts to support people as famine looms,” he said.

UN engagement continues 

The UN is actively engaging with all sides towards resuming the delivery of life-saving aid into the enclave, including desperately needed fuel, through the Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings. 

Meanwhile, key medical facilities in Rafah could soon become inaccessible or inoperable, including the only dialysis department still operating in Gaza. At the same time, humanitarians in the south have no more tents or food stocks. 

Stressing that international humanitarian law in unequivocal, he said civilians must be protected, particularly vulnerable people unable to relocate from active fighting, such as pregnant women, children, the injured, the sick, and older people and those with disabilities. 

‘West Bank ‘repercussions’ 

As “what happens in Gaza has profound repercussions in the occupied West Bank,” the UN chief also noted the “deeply disturbing spike in settler violence, excessive use of force by the Israeli Defense Force, demolitions and evictions” in the territory. 

“All of this speaks to the need for the international community to speak with one voice for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, and a massive surge in life-saving aid,” he said.

IOM and Kenya Red Cross organization, with generous contribution from Japan are supporting displaced people in Tana River, Kenya with shelter & essential household items.
IOM

IOM and Kenya Red Cross organization, with generous contribution from Japan are supporting displaced people in Tana River, Kenya with shelter & essential household items.

Solidarity with Kenya 

The Secretary-General was speaking to reporters in the Kenyan capital ahead of the closing of the UN Civil Society Conference held there this week.

Expressing solidarity with the people, he extended deepest condolences to those who have been affected by the devastating floods in the country and elsewhere in East Africa.

He said the UN will continue to support relief efforts by the Government. 

Concern for Sudan 

Mr. Guterres also addressed conflicts in Africa that are “tearing lives and communities apart”.

He voiced particular concern over the ongoing war in Sudan, where nine million people have fled their homes and starvation looms in Darfur.

Violent clashes in El Fasher are preventing aid from getting through, he said, and an attack on the city would be devastating for civilians. 

The UN chief was also very concerned by reports of escalating violence in North and South Kordofan and Al Jazirah States.

He urged all parties to abide by international humanitarian law, protect civilians, and facilitate full and unrestricted humanitarian access.

‘Get Sudan back on track’ 

“Ultimately, we know that there is no military solution to this conflict. We need an urgent, coordinated international effort to deliver a political process that can get Sudan back on track,” he said.

In this regard, he welcomed steps taken to end the conflict, including efforts by the East African bloc IGAD, the African Union, the League of Arab States, and through talks held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.  

Participants gathering at the opening of the UN Civil Society Conference, which is being held at the UN Office in Nairobi, Kenya, from 9-10 May 2024.
UN Nairobi

Participants gathering at the opening of the UN Civil Society Conference, which is being held at the UN Office in Nairobi, Kenya, from 9-10 May 2024.

Salute to civil society 

The Secretary-General participated in the UN Civil Society Conference, which was held over the past two days and attracted some 1,500 participants.

In remarks to the closing ceremony, he thanked representatives for their work, noting that he has witnessed the enormous impact of civil society in every corner of the globe.

He also acknowledged that many of them work at great personal risk.

Climate activists are being criminalised and persecuted; human rights defenders are threatened; and humanitarians killed,” he said.

Call for reform 

Mr. Guterres urged civil society to keep working with the UN to build a better world amid ongoing crises, including conflicts, climate chaos and threats to sustainable development.

While these challenges demand collective solutions, the current international system “is not up to the task”, he said, highlighting the need for reform, including of the “dysfunctional and unjust” international financial system.

“We need to reform and revitalise multilateralism so that it reflects the realities of today, and is fit to face the challenges ahead,” he said. 

Summit of the Future 

He pointed to the Summit of the Future, to be held at UN Headquarters in September, as “a key moment to drive forward our vision for a renewed multilateralism.” 

Among the aims are “turbocharging” sustainable development, unlocking finance for climate action and development, and driving progress towards reforming the international financial architecture. 

Other areas for action include considering future generations in decision-making today, closing digital divides, prioritizing conflict prevention, and working towards a nuclear-free world. 

“The Summit of the Future is a chance to push progress on the issues that matter to you – and to us,” he said.  “Together let’s seize this chance and make the Summit of the Future really count.” 

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