BY ALEX BALUKU
Baluku is a distinguished Fellow of the Dag Hammarskjöld Fund for Journalists, currently reporting from the United States of America on the 78th UN General Assembly. With a keen eye for global affairs and a commitment to delivering insightful coverage of UN activities, Baluku brings a unique perspective to the world of international journalism.
NEW YORK, NOV 6, 2023 – The escalating conflict in Gaza has reached a critical juncture, prompting a passionate appeal from the United Nations Secretary-General. The situation is not just a humanitarian crisis; it’s a crisis of humanity, as violence continues to devastate innocent lives and shake the global community.
In a press briefing at the United Nations Headquarters, the Secretary-General, António Guterres delivered a sobering message, expressing deep concern over the intensifying conflict that is affecting both Israeli and Palestinian populations.
Ground operations conducted by the Israel Defense Forces and continued bombardment have taken a severe toll on civilians. The indiscriminate targeting of hospitals, refugee camps, mosques, churches, and even UN facilities, including shelters, has left no one safe. The Secretary-General reiterated his condemnation of the acts of terror perpetrated by Hamas on October 7th and called for the immediate, unconditional, and safe release of hostages held in Gaza.
The clear violations of international humanitarian law witnessed on the ground have alarmed the international community. The Secretary-General emphasized that no party to an armed conflict is above international humanitarian law, urging all parties to respect their obligations.
However, the most heart-wrenching aspect of the crisis is the impact on children. Gaza has become a tragic graveyard for hundreds of girls and boys who are reportedly killed or injured every day. Journalists and aid workers are also facing unprecedented dangers, with more casualties reported in this conflict than in any other over the past three decades.
In response to the urgent need for assistance, the United Nations and its partners are launching a $1.2 billion humanitarian appeal. This appeal is designed to provide relief to 2.7 million people, encompassing the entire population of the Gaza Strip and half a million Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
While some life-saving aid is trickling into Gaza through the Rafah crossing from Egypt, it is far from sufficient to address the overwhelming demand for humanitarian assistance. The crossing alone cannot handle aid trucks at the required scale. The situation is exacerbated by a significant shortage of fuel, which has life-threatening implications for medical facilities and the population at large.
The Secretary-General’s message is clear: an immediate humanitarian ceasefire is needed, along with the unconditional release of hostages, protection for civilians, and access to vital humanitarian supplies. These appeals should not be conditional on each other, and funding is urgently required to support these efforts.
As the crisis unfolds, there are also concerns about the conflict spilling over into the wider region, from Lebanon and Syria to Iraq and Yemen. The Secretary-General called for a halt to this escalation, emphasizing the need for diplomatic solutions and the cessation of hateful rhetoric and provocative actions.
Finally, the rise in antisemitism and anti-Muslim bigotry has added another layer of complexity to this crisis. Jewish and Muslim communities worldwide are on high alert, fearing for their safety. The Secretary-General implores the international community to find a way to hold onto their common humanity in the face of such immense suffering.
The ongoing conflict emphasizes the critical need for a peaceful resolution, with Israelis and Palestinians coexisting in peace and security through a two-state solution. The world watches, hoping for an end to the pain, the healing of the broken, and the establishment of lasting peace in the region.