UN Secretary-General António Guterres has been “working the phones” since Thursday night to avert a major catastrophe in Gaza, said UN sources.
“He’s been in constant contact with Israeli authorities urging them to avert a humanitarian catastrophe.” The UN chief has also been in touch with ambassadors in New York and other key officials in the Middle East.
Mr. Dujarric said it was essential to provide humanitarian access for civilians trapped inside the Gaza Strip to prevent more deaths.
The noose around the civilian population in #Gaza is tightening.
— UN Humanitarian (@UNOCHA) October 13, 2023
He told journalists in Geneva, in line with the assessment of health authorities there, that it would be “impossible to evacuate vulnerable hospital patients from the north of Gaza”.
The UN also reiterated its calls for the immediate release of hostages held in Gaza following Hamas’s deadly Saturday attack on Israel, and for the protection of civilians and urgent aid access to the sealed-off enclave.
UN humanitarians joined their voices to these calls on Friday, urging the parties to save civilian lives.
UN relief chief Martin Griffiths, tweeted that “the noose around the civilian population in Gaza is tightening“, asking how such a huge number of people could possible move across a “densely populated warzone” in just 24 hours.
Philippe Lazzarini, the head of UNRWA, warned that the relocation order “will only lead to unprecedented levels of misery and further push people in Gaza into abyss”. He said that over 423,000 people across the enclave have already been displaced, of whom more than 270,000 have taken refuge in UNRWA shelters.
The agency tweeted later on Friday that Gaza was “fast becoming a hell hole and is on the brink of collapse. There is no exception, all parties must uphold the laws of war.”
Briefing reporters in Geneva, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) spokesperson James Elder regretted that the humanitarian situation has now reached “lethal lows”.
He highlighted that the Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated places on the planet and people, including hundreds of thousands of children, who are finding themselves “with nowhere safe to go”.
OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke also underscored the impossibility of a relocation, asking, “in the middle of a war zone where people are already at the end of the rope, how is that going to happen?”
Source: United Nations.