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Guterres says aid to Gaza 'requires Israel removing' obstacles

By AFP

March 24, 2024 04:52 PM


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United Nations chief Antonio Guterres said Sunday in Cairo that delivering the necessary aid to famine-threatened Gaza "requires Israel removing the remaining obstacles and chokepoints to relief".

Guterres repeated his call for an "immediate humanitarian ceasefire" to alleviate "the plight of Palestinian children, women and men struggling to survive the nightmare in Gaza", during a joint press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.

He had visited on Saturday the Rafah border crossing with Gaza, where nearly six months of war and siege have displaced the vast majority of the territory's 2.4 million people and destroyed its civilian infrastructure.

"Looking at Gaza, it almost appears that the four horsemen of war, famine, conquest and death are galloping across it," the UN chief said.

"The whole world recognises that it's past time to silence the guns and ensure an immediate humanitarian ceasefire," he continued.

The Israeli government is under growing international pressure to ease its bombardment and ground offensive in Gaza, which the territory's health ministry says have killed at least 32,226 people, most of them women and children.

The war was sparked on October 7 by Hamas's unprecedented attack on Israel, which resulted in about 1,160 deaths, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of official Israeli figures.

Israel has vowed to pursue its retaliatory military campaign all the way to Gaza's southernmost city of Rafah, where 1.5 million Palestinians have sought shelter, penned in by the Egyptian border.

Guterres, who also met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, called the Rafah border crossing and Egypt's El-Arish airport where assistance is sent "essential arteries for life-saving aid into Gaza".

"But those arteries are clogged," he said, with massive lines of trucks piled up on the Egyptian side, only trickling in as the humanitarian situation worsens.

Calls have mounted for Israel to ease its restrictions on aid and open more crossings into Gaza.

"Palestinians in Gaza desperately need what has been promised -- a flood of aid. Not trickles. Not drops," Guterres said.

The UN has repeatedly warned of famine in the Palestinian territory, particularly in the north, which has been largely cut off from aid deliveries.


AFP


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