UNITED NATIONS, UNITED STATES — The UN agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) warned Monday that the limited number of aid trucks entering Gaza were insufficient to meet the “unprecedented humanitarian needs” in the territory.
“The handful of convoys being allowed through Rafah is nothing compared to the needs of over two million people trapped in Gaza,” UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini told the UN Security Council, referring to the sole border crossing between Gaza and Egypt.
Israel has unleashed a massive bombing campaign on Hamas-run Gaza after gunmen stormed across the border on 7 October, killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and seizing 230 hostages, according to Israeli officials.
The strikes have flattened thousands of buildings and, according to the Hamas-run health ministry, killed over 8,000 people, also mostly civilians.
According to UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, 33 trucks carrying water, food and medical supplies entered Gaza through Rafah on Sunday.
Prior to the war, some 500 trucks carrying aid and other goods entered Gaza every day.
“The system in place to allow aid into Gaza is geared to fail unless there is political will to make the flow of supplies meaningful, matching the unprecedented humanitarian needs,” Lazzarini said, calling for the Security Council to demand an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.
He said that 64 of his UNRWA colleagues had been killed in just over three weeks, “the highest number of UN aid workers killed in a conflict in such a short time.”
He added that a UN worker named Samir, as well Samir’s wife and eight children, had been killed just hours before the meeting.
“My UNRWA colleagues are the only glimmer of hope for the entire Gaza Strip… but they are running out of fuel, water, food and medicine and will soon be unable to operate,” said the Swiss-Italian official.
“An entire population is being dehumanized,” he warned.
UNICEF chief Catherine Russell told the council that her agency believes “the true cost of this latest escalation will be measured in children’s lives — those lost to the violence and those forever changed by it.”
The UN General Assembly adopted a nonbinding resolution last week calling for an immediate humanitarian truce, but the Security Council has thus far been unable to reach agreement on any text related to the war.
With permanent members Russia, China and the United States applying their vetoes to previous resolutions, the Security Council’s 10 elected members have begun working on a new draft they hope will garner consensus.
“We have the means to get something done and yet we repeatedly and shamefully fail,” said Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira, whose country currently holds the Security Council’s rotating chair.
“The eyes of the world are staring at us and will not move away from our distressing inability to act,” he added.
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