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Gaza 'carnage' must end — UN aid chief

By AFP - Nov 16,2023 - Last updated at Nov 16,2023

Smoke rises during an Israeli military bombardment of the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday (AFP photo)

GENEVA — The UN humanitarian chief demanded on Wednesday immediate action to "rein in the carnage" in Gaza, presenting a plan to help ease the crisis in the Palestinian territory.

"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," Martin Griffiths said in a statement.

"This cannot be allowed to continue."

He put forward a 10-point plan to help ease the humanitarian catastrophe, calling in particular for a ceasefire.

His comments came after Israeli forces entered Al Shifa hospital on Wednesday, targeting what they say is a Hamas command centre in tunnels beneath the patients and the civilians seeking refuge there from the fighting.

Earlier on Wednesday, Griffiths said on X, formerly Twitter, that he was "appalled by reports of military raids in Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza".

"Hospitals are not battlegrounds."

The health ministry in Gaza says Israel's ensuing air and ground offensive has killed 11,320 people, mostly civilians, including thousands of children.

The United Nations estimates that at least 2,300 people, patients, staff and displaced civilians, are inside the hospital and may be unable to escape because of fierce fighting.

In his statement, Griffiths stressed that the UN and its partners in Gaza were “committed to responding to the mounting humanitarian needs, guided, as always, by the principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence”.

“We have the expertise, know-how and most certainly the will,” he said.

He urged the parties and those with influence over them to implement his plan.

 

 ‘Act before too late’ 

 

The plan also urges the release of the hostages held by Hamas, and calls on the international community to fully fund a $1.2 billion appeal to address the towering needs in Gaza.

Griffiths stressed the need to “facilitate aid agencies’ efforts to bring in a continuous flow of aid convoys and to do so safely”.

He asked that additional crossing points be opened for aid and commercial trucks, and for the UN and other humanitarian organisations to be allowed to access sufficient quantities of fuel to deliver aid and provide basic services.

Humanitarian organisations needed to be able to “deliver aid throughout Gaza without impediment or interference”, he said.

Griffiths also called for an improved humanitarian notification system to help ensure civilians and civilian infrastructure are spared in the hostilities.

“These are the actions required to rein in the carnage,” he said.

“The world must act before it is too late.”

 

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