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Gaza ‘humanitarian pauses’ will need coordination with the UN

GAZA, CITY – Any plans for short-term pauses in the fighting in Gaza must be carried out in coordination with the UN and following agreement by all sides, the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General said on Thursday during his regular press briefing from New York.

Stéphane Dujarric was responding to a journalist’s question following the White House’s announcement that Israel has agreed to halt military operations in northern Gaza to allow daily four-hour humanitarian pauses.

Parties must agree

“How any such halt in the fighting, and how it would work for humanitarian purposes, will need to be coordinated with the United Nations, especially on the issue of timings and location,” he said.

“And obviously in order for this to be done safely for humanitarian purposes, it would have to be agreed with all parties to the conflict to be truly effective.”

Escape from north Gaza

Meanwhile, humanitarians report that people in northern Gaza continue to flee to the south, mostly on foot, amid intense hostilities, with some 50,000 people evacuated on Wednesday.

Clashes and shelling on and around the road reportedly continued, endangering evacuees as they moved south, with reports of corpses being seen on the road. 

Hundreds of thousands of people who remain in the north are facing a dire humanitarian situation, as they struggle to find even minimal amounts of water and food to survive.

Aid trickling in

Dujarric also updated on efforts to get more aid into Gaza through the Rafah crossing with Egypt, the sole point of access for the besieged enclave.

He said 106 trucks primarily carrying food, medicine, health supplies, bottled water and hygiene products, arrived in Gaza on Wednesday. Aid delivery began on 21 October and 756 trucks have made the journey to date, which “represents only a fraction of what is needed and still no fuel going in.”

One consequence was that Al Quds hospital in Gaza City had to shut down key services on Wednesday, while the only provider of maternity services in north Gaza – Al Awda hospital – has warned of imminent closure.

Wednesday also saw the second delivery of much-needed medical supplies and medicine to Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City since conflict erupted on 7 October.  The items were provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN agency that assists Palestine refugees, UNRWA.

“Our WHO colleagues say that while welcome, the quantities delivered are far from sufficient to meet the immediate needs,” he said.

Honouring fallen colleagues

Dujarric also announced that the UN Flag will fly at half-mast on Monday to pay tribute to the 99 UNRWA colleagues who have lost their lives during the bombardment and fighting so far.

Many of these workers – who include teachers, school principals, doctors, engineers, guards and support staff – were killed along with their family members.

UN offices across the world are also asked to lower their flags and to observe a minute of silence in their honour.



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