Mon. Apr 15th, 2024

•As UN Secretary-General, EU Foreign Policy Chief, others sound alarm

•Over 31,819 Palestinians killed, with 73,934 injured, nearly 8,500 missing and 700,000 IDPs

Senator Iroegbu

In a harrowing update on the ongoing crisis in the Palestinian territories, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has issued a stark warning, stating, “Palestinians in Gaza are enduring horrifying levels of hunger and suffering … This is the highest number of people facing catastrophic hunger ever recorded … anywhere, anytime.”

The press release delivered by the Ambassador of the State of Palestine Nigeria, Amb. Abdullah M. Abu Shawesh, on the 167th day of the Israel war, underscored the dire humanitarian situation facing the population of Gaza. 

Abu Shawesh quoted the UN human rights chief Volker Türk, who noted the dire conditions of “hunger, starvation, and famine” are a direct result of Israel’s “extensive restrictions on the entry and distribution of humanitarian aid and commercial goods.”

He said that of grave concern is the revelation that “100 per cent of the population in Gaza is now classified as facing severe levels of acute food insecurity”, marking an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. He stressed that as of Wednesday, March 20, the death toll has risen to 31,819 Palestinians, with 73,934 injured and nearly 8,500 missing. The situation is exacerbated by the presence of 700,000 internally displaced persons seeking refuge in only 20 per cent of the Gaza Strip.

According to the Palestinian Envoy, the “Israeli genocidal war” has taken a multifaceted toll, including the prevention of necessary medical supplies from entering Gaza, leading to a rapid deterioration in the health conditions of kidney failure patients and others with chronic diseases. Additionally, the Palestinian unemployment rate is projected to soar to 57 per cent in the first quarter of 2024.

Abu Shawesh noted another pressing concern is the presence of explosive materials hidden under rubble and throughout Gaza, posing a lethal threat to civilians. He said that despite efforts by mine action partners to assess and mitigate this danger, restrictions on humanitarian mine action supplies and personnel deployment hamper response efforts.

He stated that the European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has condemned the situation as a state of famine, asserting that “starvation is used as a weapon of war” by Israel. Reports of malnutrition among children in Gaza are alarming, with one in three children under two in the Northern Gaza Strip suffering from acute malnutrition.

According to the Ambassador, the Israeli army’s systematic targeting of IT professionals and workers in computer engineering has further exacerbated the crisis, as has the obstruction of UNRWA’s humanitarian efforts. Despite these challenges, some Western countries have resumed funding for UNRWA, following a suspension prompted by unsubstantiated Israeli claims.

In the face of escalating violence and humanitarian suffering, Ambassador Abu Shawesh, again calls for urgent international action to address the crisis and alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people.

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