UN aid chief: ‘Some progress’ in talks on letting fuel into Gaza

UN aid chief: ‘Some progress’ in talks on letting fuel into Gaza
UN aid chief: ‘Some progress’ in talks on letting fuel into Gaza

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - People gather around a charging station for cell phones, portable power supplies, and car batteries connected to a fuel-based electric generator on the side of a street in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on October 31, 2023 amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement. — AFP pic

GENEVA, Nov 3 — The United Nations aid chief said today that there had been “some progress” in ongoing negotiations to allow fuel into the Israeli-besieged Gaza Strip for the first time since hostilities began on October 7.

“I heard just this morning as I came in, there has been some progress on allowing some more fuel in through these negotiations,” Martin Griffiths told a briefing for member states at the United Nations in New York, referring to ongoing negotiations between the global body, Israel, Egypt and the United States. “I hope to see that confirmed during today.”

In the same speech he also repeated his call for “humanitarian pauses” in Israel’s bombardment of the enclave to help aid deliveries, which are far below pre-conflict levels.

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“If we do not have pauses, we will not keep up with the needs of the people of Gaza and the Israelis also caught up in those areas of conflict,” he said.

On a visit to the region, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken appealed to Israel today to take steps to protect civilians in Gaza where the death toll has surpassed 9,000. Israel says 1,400 of its civilians were killed in the October 7 attacks by Hamas which prompted its bombardment of Gaza.

The director of the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) in Gaza, Tom White, said his agency was being “starved” of the supplies it needs to help people in the densley populated enclave.

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“Never have I been in a situation where we are effectively starved of the vital humanitarian supplies that we need to provide to people,” he said, adding that most Gazans were surviving on one or two pieces of bread per day.

White said 72 UNRWA staff members had been killed in the conflict so far. He added that UNRWA had lost contact with many of its shelters in the north, which is the focus of Israel’s military operation. — Reuters

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