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Civilians In Gaza In 'Extreme Peril': Heads Of UN Agencies

22.02.2024 04:12

'Diseases are rampant. Famine is looming. Water is at a trickle. Basic infrastructure has been decimated,' says Inter Agency Standing Committee.

The leaders of a number of UN agencies and humanitarian organizations urged Israel on Wednesday to provide food and medical supplies to the Gaza Strip, warning that civilians there are in "extreme peril."

"We are calling on Israel to fulfil its legal obligation, under international humanitarian and human rights law, to provide food and medical supplies and facilitate aid operations, and on the world's leaders to prevent an even worse catastrophe from happening," the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), the highest-level humanitarian coordination forum of the UN system, said in a statement.

The health system continues to be "systematically degraded with catastrophic consequences," it said, adding that as of Feb. 19, only 12 out of 36 hospitals with inpatient capacity were partially functioning.

"Diseases are rampant. Famine is looming. Water is at a trickle. Basic infrastructure has been decimated. Food production has come to a halt. Hospitals have turned into battlefields. One million children face daily traumas," it added.

The committee warned against a further escalation of violence in Rafah -- home to more than 1 million residents seeking refuge from Israel's war on the enclave, saying "it could also deal a death blow to a humanitarian response that is already on its knees."

To avoid an "even worse catastrophe," the committee listed 10 requirements, including an immediate cease-fire, the protection of civilians and infrastructure they rely on, the release of hostages, unimpeded passage to distribute aid, a functioning humanitarian notification system, and a stable communications network.

"Humanitarian agencies remain committed, despite the risks. But they cannot be left to pick up the pieces," it added.

Israel launched a deadly offensive on the Gaza Strip following a cross-border incursion by the Palestinian group Hamas on Oct. 7. The ensuing Israeli bombardment has killed at least 29,313 people and injured nearly 70,000 with mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

The Israeli war on Gaza has pushed 85% of the territory's population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza. -

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