UNICEF urges cease-fire in Gaza to help stem humanitarian crisis

A cease-fire in Gaza would allow aid distribution, facilitate the return of hostages, and bring relief to those affected by the conflict, said a UNICEF spokesman, describing a cease-fire as critical.

Following the UN Security Council’s March 25 draft resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire, James Elder spoke to Anadolu about developments in the region and the humanitarian crisis he has witnessed.

Elder expressed concern over the humanitarian situation in Gaza, emphasizing the urgent need for a cease-fire.

He highlighted that despite the UN’s call for a cease-fire, the region remains engulfed in violence, with the 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza facing the threat of famine.

Saying he witnessed “dire” conditions firsthand during his travels in Gaza, Elder stressed the widespread desire for peace among Palestinians.

He underscored the “devastating” impact of continued bombings, particularly in Rafah, where children have suffered severe injuries.

“We need that cease-fire so children and families that have been enduring this for months can finally go to bed at night knowing that they will actually wake up in the morning,” he said.

Dire conditions and urgent needs

Describing the extent of destruction in Gaza, Elder highlighted the overwhelming challenges faced by the displaced population, particularly in Rafah.

He said: “It’s hard to imagine that type of destruction. We know that two-thirds, maybe more of all Gazan homes and buildings have been damaged or destroyed.”

He emphasized the critical shortage of basic amenities, with overcrowded living conditions exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.

“People are living in tents, on the beach, on the streets,” Elder stressed.

He added: “There is one toilet for 800 people and one shower for 3,000 people.”

Elder stressed the urgent need for humanitarian aid to reach Gaza, where malnutrition rates are alarmingly high.

He described how “in the first three weeks of March, around a quarter of humanitarian convoys were denied” access to Gaza.

Criticizing Israel for blocking the relief efforts of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees or UNRWA, Elder said it had supplied 50% of aid to the north.

He called for immediate action to address the man-made food disaster and alleviate the suffering of Gazan families and children.

Struggling healthcare system

Regarding the state of Gaza’s hospitals, Elder expressed concern over the limited capacity to provide medical care amid escalating violence.

He said: “Only a third of hospitals are partially functioning. A third, and that’s partially functioning.”

He highlighted the strain on hospital staff and the critical importance of maintaining essential healthcare services.

He added: “It is so critical that there is no military offensive on the European Hospital in Rafah. That hospital is a lifeline for so many civilians.”

Global call for cease-fire

Elder emphasized the importance of international solidarity in addressing the crisis in Gaza.

He noted the growing support from ordinary people worldwide urging decision-makers to prioritize peace efforts.

“A cease-fire is critical,” Elder stated.

He added: “It will allow aid distribution, facilitate the return of hostages, and bring relief to those affected by the conflict.”

Source: Anadolu Agency

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