UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary General António Guterres called for an urgent humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza on Monday to safeguard civilians and ensure vital aid reaches the besieged Palestinian enclave.
“The path forward is clear: a humanitarian ceasefire. Now,” the UN chief told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York before an emergency session of the Security Council.
“All parties must start respecting their obligations under international humanitarian law. Now.”
Guterres cautioned that if the conflict in Gaza persists, it could extend throughout the region and beyond. “We’re already witnessing an escalation from Lebanon and Syria to Iraq and Yemen,” he warned. “This escalation must cease.”
The emergency meeting was summoned by China and the United Arab Emirates to address the deteriorating situation in Gaza, specifically concerning Sunday’s Israeli bombing of the Al Shifa hospital and repeated attacks on Jabaliya refugee camp.
Russia supported the call for immediate consultations.
China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun described the situation in Gaza as “dangerously catastrophic” and cautioned that “spillover effects” were already unfolding. He expressed hope for the Security Council to adopt “a more urgent approach in sending a strong and clear message calling for a ceasefire and the protection of civilians”.
However, Ambassador Zhang acknowledged the challenges in achieving a consensus in the Security Council due to the reluctance of two veto-wielding permanent members, the United States and Britain, to support calls for a ceasefire.
“It’s challenging, but we are working very hard on that,” he stated.
Guterres, the UN chief, painted a grim picture of the situation, describing the crisis in Gaza as more than a humanitarian issue: “It is a crisis of humanity.”
He stressed that “the intensifying conflict is shaking the world, rattling the region, and, most tragically, destroying countless innocent lives.”
The UN relief chief, Martin Griffiths, also addressed the Council, renewing earlier pleas for an immediate ceasefire and the release of all prisoners. “We need an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. It has been 30 days,” he exclaimed.
“Enough is enough. This must stop now.”
Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2023