Gemma Connell, the Gaza team leader for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), has shed light on the extreme suffering and unsafe conditions for civilians in Gaza. In a statement made on Thursday, Connell detailed the harrowing situation in the enclave, revealing the depth of the humanitarian crisis unfolding there.
According to Connell, she has observed unprecedented levels of devastation, with many people in southern Gaza being displaced multiple times, some as many as six or seven. The plight in northern Gaza is equally desperate.
Connell expressed that in her extensive humanitarian career, she has never witnessed such profound suffering, desperation, and deprivation.
“No food, no water, very little medical supplies,” she said, painting a grim picture of the conditions faced by the people there.
Controversy and Concerns Over Aid and Resettlement
Further complicating the situation, Connell addressed Israeli accusations that the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency is stalling the delivery of aid. She firmly refuted these claims, emphasizing the daily efforts to provide assistance despite the many challenges, including the rigorous screenings aid trucks undergo.
Connell also highlighted the need for more focus on the 2.2 million people in Gaza who urgently require help.
“My biggest fear is that the world doesn't see the people of Gaza as the humans that they are,” she remarked, emphasizing the catastrophic toll of the war on individuals and families.Adding to the complexity of the situation, United Nations human rights chief Volker Turk expressed his disturbance over recent remarks by two far-right Israeli government ministers advocating the resettlement of Gaza civilians. About 85% of Gazans have been internally displaced by the war, and Turk emphasized their right to return to their homes, reiterating that under international humanitarian law, forcible transfer is forbidden. These statements, made by Israel's Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, have drawn widespread criticism.
Smotrich later clarified his stance, suggesting that any transfers should be voluntary. However, their initial comments were denounced by several countries, including the United States, with the State Department labeling them as "inflammatory and irresponsible."