Aid agencies decry ‘shocking’ toll six months into Gaza war

Aid agencies decry ‘shocking’ toll six months into Gaza war
Aid agencies decry ‘shocking’ toll six months into Gaza war

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - A young Palestinian man sells fresh vegetables in front of a building destroyed in Israeli strikes, ahead of Eid al-Fitr celebrations which conclude the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on April 7, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the militant group Hamas. — AFP pic

GENEVA, April 7 — United Nations agencies and other aid organisations decried today the devastating toll wreaked by six months of war in Gaza, warning that the situation was “beyond catastrophic”.

“Six months is an awful milestone,” the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said, warning that “humanity has been all but abandoned”.

The Gaza war broke out on October 7 with an unprecedented attack by Hamas militants that resulted in the deaths of 1,170 people, mostly civilians, Israeli figures show.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants also took more than 250 hostages, and 129 remain in Gaza, including 34 who the army says are dead.

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Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 33,175 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

The UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths insisted Saturday that there needed to be “a reckoning for this betrayal of humanity”.

UNICEF chief Catherine Russell pointed out that more than 13,000 children were reportedly among those killed.

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“Homes, schools and hospitals in ruin. Teachers, doctors and humanitarians killed. Famine is imminent,” she said on X, formerly Twitter, yesterday.

“The level and speed of destruction are shocking. Children need a ceasefire NOW.”

The IFRC chief Jagan Chapagain meanwhile described the situation as “beyond catastrophic”.

Amid looming famine, he warned that “millions of lives are at risk of hunger.”

“An urgent and unhindered flow of humanitarian aid must be ensured to reach those in need. Not tomorrow, but now.”

IFRC said 18 members of its network -- 15 staff and volunteers with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) and three from Magen David Adom (MDA) -- had been killed since October 7.

“These deaths are devastating and unacceptable,” Chapagain said on X.

IFRC took “no side other than the side of humanity”, he said, stressing the urgent need to ensure “unhindered access for aid into and to all parts of the Gaza Strip”.

He also called for “the protection of civilians, humanitarian workers, healthcare workers and their facilities” and “the unconditional release of all hostages”.

For the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the caretaker of the Geneva Conventions, “a steady flow of humanitarian aid” into Gaza was vital, but it was “only part of the solution”.

“Both sides must conduct their military operations in a way that spares civilians caught in the middle,” it said on X. — AFP

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