Saturday, April 20, 2024

UN chief warns Israeli onslaught on Rafah would put ‘final nail in coffin’ to humanitarian aid

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that an all-out Israeli offensive in Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians are sheltering, would put an end to the UN assistance programs in Gaza.

“Rafah is the core of the humanitarian aid operation, and UNRWA is the backbone of that effort,” Guterres told the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday.

“An all-out Israeli offensive on the city would not only be terrifying for more than a million Palestinian civilians sheltering there; it would put the final nail in the coffin of our aid programs.”

“I repeat my call for a humanitarian ceasefire and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages,” he urged.

Stressing that the UN Security Council is often “deadlocked, unable to act on the most significant peace and security issues of our time,” he added: “The Council’s lack of unity on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and on Israel’s military operations in Gaza following the horrific terror attacks by Hamas on 7 October, has severely – perhaps fatally – undermined its authority.”

The UN chief emphasized that the council needs “serious reform” to its composition and working methods.

“We urgently need a new commitment to all human rights – civil, cultural, economic, political and social – as they apply to peace and security, backed by serious efforts at implementation and accountability.”

“We cannot, we must not, become numb to appalling and repeated violations of international humanitarian and human rights law,” Guterres continued.

He stated that the Summit of the Future – where the new agenda for peace is to be discussed – in September is the opportunity for such a recommitment.

The agenda applies a human rights lens to preventing and ending violence in all its forms, according to the secretary-general.

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