The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP) and World Health Organisation (WHO) have called for a humanitarian ceasefire, along with immediate, unrestricted humanitarian access throughout Gaza to allow humanitarian actors to reach civilians in need, save lives and prevent further human suffering.
According to the UN bodies, flows of humanitarian aid must be at scale and sustained, and allow all Gazans to preserve their dignity.
They further called for safe and sustained access to water, food, health – including sexual and reproductive health – and fuel, which they believe is necessary to enable essential services.
In a statement made available to EnviroNews on Saturday, October 21, 2023, they submitted: “We call for the protection of all civilians and civilian infrastructure in Gaza, including health-care facilities.
“We call for the protection of humanitarian workers in Gaza who are risking their lives in the service of others.
“And we call for the utmost respect of international humanitarian law by all parties.
“Gaza was a desperate humanitarian situation before the most recent hostilities. It is now catastrophic. The world must do more.”
They disclosed that a first, but limited, shipment of life-saving humanitarian supplies from the United Nations and the Egyptian Red Crescent entered Gaza on Saturday on 20 trucks, passing through the Rafah Crossing.
“It will provide an urgently needed lifeline to some of the hundreds of thousands of civilians, mostly women and children, who have been cut off from water, food, medicine, fuel and other essentials. But it is only a small beginning and far from enough. More than 1.6 million people in Gaza are in critical need of humanitarian aid. Children, pregnant women and the elderly remain the most vulnerable. Nearly half of Gaza’s population are children.
“With so much civilian infrastructure in Gaza damaged or destroyed in nearly two weeks of constant bombings, including shelters, health facilities, water, sanitation, and electrical systems, time is running out before mortality rates could skyrocket due to disease outbreaks and lack of health-care capacity.
“Hospitals are overwhelmed with casualties. Civilians face mounting challenges in accessing essential food supplies. Health facilities no longer have fuel and are running on small amounts they have secured locally. These are expected to run out in the next day or so. Water production capacity is at 5 per cent of normal levels.
“Pre-positioned humanitarian supplies have already been depleted. Vulnerable people are at greatest risk and children are dying at an alarming rate and being denied their right to protection, food, water and health care.
“Nearly one-third of the population of Palestine was food insecure before this conflict in Gaza. Today stocks in shops are nearly exhausted and bakeries are closing, while tens of thousands of people are displaced and unable to cook or safely purchase food.”
Climate Action Network (CAN), a network of civil society organisations working for climate and social justice, has joined those rallying across the world in solidarity with Palestinian, Israeli and all families who have lost loved ones in the current conflict.
“We stand with those who grieve and fear for their loved ones, and join the call for peace and safety, where the rights of all are respected without distinction.
“We condemn all killing, indiscriminate attacks, civilian hostage taking and arbitrary detention of any civilians. The targeting of civilians could amount to a war crime, no matter who does it,” stated CAN.
The group added: “We join the calls for an immediate ceasefire, respect for international humanitarian and human rights’ law, the provision of humanitarian access and support.
“There can be no peace without justice.
“The end of the occupation of Palestine is a precondition to ensure a sustained and long-lasting solution.”