‘high time’ for a ceasefire and the release of hostages, says Guterres – Global Issues


Speak in Jordan at an international conference following the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza, Mr Guterres stressed that after more than eight months of intense hostilities “the horror must stop”.

“I welcome the peace initiative recently outlined by President Biden and urge all parties seize this opportunity and come to an agreement,” said the UN chief. “And I call on all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law. This includes facilitating the delivery of humanitarian assistance both within and within Gaza, as they have committed. All available routes to Gaza must be operational – and the land routes are absolutely crucial.”

On Monday, the text drafted by the United States urged Hamas to accept a ceasefire proposal announced by President Joe Biden on May 31 and which the White House said has already been accepted by Israel.

The text urges both sides to fully implement the terms of the proposal.without delay and without conditions”. It was adopted by a large majority 14 votes in favor and Russia abstained – choosing not to exercise its veto.

Standing at UNRWA

Noting the key role played in the battered enclave by the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees, UNRWA – which has been attacked and exiled by Israeli leaders – the Secretary General stressed that his presence “will remain crucial not only during the conflict, but beyond”.

Latest reports from Gaza show that about 60 percent of all residential buildings and at least 80 percent of commercial facilities have been damaged by Israeli bombing, the UN chief said, while health facilities and educational institutions have been reduced to rubble.

In addition, more than a million “deeply traumatized children in Gaza” need psychosocial support and the safety and hope that their schools used to provide, Mr. Guterres said, before emphasizing that “only UNRWA capacity, skills and networks necessary to support the Palestinian people in meeting the enormous challenge in healthcare, education and much more.”

Barriers to accessing help remain

Echoing deep and repeated warnings from humanitarian workers about the scale of the grave emergency in Gaza, linked to the lack of access to aid, the UN chief noted that “At least half of all humanitarian aid missions are denied, obstructed or canceled for operational or security reasons.”

Meanwhile, the UN human rights office in Geneva has… OHCHRexpressed deep shock at the impact of the hostage release in the Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza last weekend.

OHCHR spokesman Jeremy Laurence said that hundreds of Palestinians – including many civilians – were reportedly killed and injured and that the manner in which the raid was carried out “in such a densely populated area seriously raises the question” of whether the Israeli forces adhered to the principles of respected distinction, proportionality and precaution, as laid down in the laws of war.

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