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Israel-Palestine crisis: UN emergency relief chief unveils 10-point plan ‘to rein in the carnage’

The initiative from veteran aid chief Martin Griffiths, head of the UN aid coordination office OCHA, comes more than five weeks since Hamas militants killed 1,200 people in Israel and took around 240 hostages.

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The full-scale Israeli siege and assault that followed has levelled thousands of buildings in Gaza and reportedly claimed more than 11,000 civilian lives, according the Ministry of Health there.

Halt the killing

“As the carnage in Gaza reaches new levels of horror every day, the world continues to watch in shock as hospitals come under fire, premature babies die, and an entire population is deprived of the basic means of survival,” Mr. Griffiths said. “This cannot be allowed to continue.”

In a call to the warring parties and all those able to exert influence on them to heed the initiative, Mr. Griffiths underscored the need to ensure a safe and “continuous flow of aid convoys” into Gaza.

Additional crossing points should be opened into the enclave, over and above Rafah from Egypt, according to the 10-point plan, including Kerem Shalom, and private sector suppliers should be included in this plan too.

Comprehensive UN-led response

Rebuffing suggestions that the UN lacked a comprehensive aid relief strategy, Mr. Griffiths insisted at a press conference in Geneva to launch the plan that it followed the same core humanitarian principles that applied to every emergency.

Nonetheless, the initiative does reflect the increasing needs linked to the growing number of people now leaving the north of the enclave for the south, he told journalists in Geneva.

“The key word here is continuous aid needs to be reliable…People need to know that there will be aid coming tomorrow or the next day,” he said. “They need to know that they have time to consume these supplies because more is coming at the next moment.”

Fuel access is key

Access to fuel, a key requirement for all aid to flow, should also be made possible “in sufficient quantities” to deliver basic services, and the UN and partners should be allowed to expand the number of shelters available to all those forced from their homes in northern Gaza by the Israeli military’s evacuation order.

Additional funding for the humanitarian response is also required, Mr. Griffiths pointed out, noting that it now amounts to $1.2 billion. UN and partner aid distribution hubs should also be permitted and civilians should be allowed “to move to safer areas and to voluntarily return to their residences”, the UN official said.

A man and a boy share drinking water in the Gaza Strip.
© UNRWA/Ashraf Amra

A man and a boy share drinking water in the Gaza Strip.

Fuel boost essential

Amid the news on Wednesday that the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNWRA, had received just over 23,000 litres of fuel – even though “it cannot be used for the overall humanitarian response, including for medical and water facilities” – Mr. Griffiths issued an appeal for some 200,000 litres a day.

“It’s the driver of effective hospitals, it’s the driver of trucks that will go from Rafah on entry to the distribution points, he said.”

More crossing points

The top UN aid official also underscored the need for more crossing points for aid into Gaza, including at Kerem Shalom in the north of the Strip. Before the latest escalation that border post accounted for more than 60 per cent of the trucks going into Gaza, he explained.

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