The UN and the Red Cross: The situation in Gaza is 'worse than catastrophic'

Director General of the International Organization of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC), Jagan Chapagain, said that the situation is "more than shocking"

by Sededin Dedovic
The UN and the Red Cross: The situation in Gaza is 'worse than catastrophic'
© Abid Katib / Getty Images

Amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas and the dire humanitarian situation, UN agencies and humanitarian NGOs recently issued a joint statement, characterizing the situation in Gaza as "beyond catastrophic". The protracted conflict, which is now entering its seventh month, has left traces of destruction, the entire strip is in ruins and almost 14,000 children have lost their lives, according to the health ministry controlled by Hamas in Gaza.

Tragically, educators, health workers and aid workers have also fallen victim to the violence, exacerbating an already dire humanitarian crisis. Katrin Russell, head of UNICEF, lamented the grim statistics. She stressed the urgent need for a ceasefire to prevent further loss of innocent lives, noting that the scale and speed of the destruction was nothing short of shocking.

"Houses, schools, hospitals are in ruins. Teachers, doctors, humanitarians were killed. Only a general famine did not occur. The level and speed of destruction is shocking. Children need a ceasefire now," UNICEF chief Katrin Russell wrote on the X network.

Echoing these sentiments, Jagan Chapagain, director general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), described the situation as "more than shocking", with millions of lives at risk of starvation.

Chapagain stressed the urgent need for humanitarian aid to reach those in need, stressing that it cannot wait until tomorrow, but must be delivered urgently. The IFRC stressed that the conflict has taken its toll on its staff, with 18 members of their network, including 15 staff or volunteers from the Palestinian Red Crescent and three from Israel's Magen David Adom emergency medical service, losing their lives since the conflict began.

October 7.

Family and friends including Al Jazeera reporter, Wael Al-Dahdouh (2nd R), bid farewell to the bodies of journalists Hamza Al-Da© Ahmad Hasaballah / Getty Images

Chapagain appealed for the protection of civilians, humanitarian and medical workers and their facilities, as well as for the unconditional release of all hostages.

The indiscriminate targeting of civilians and humanitarian workers is a violation of international humanitarian law and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. Meanwhile, Martin Griffiths, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), condemned the conflict as a betrayal of humanity.

The ongoing violence has resulted in immense civilian suffering on both sides, with no end in sight. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has stressed the importance of ensuring that humanitarian aid continues to flow into Gaza.

However, they also stressed that aid alone is not enough to address the underlying issues fueling the conflict. Both sides must conduct their military operations in a manner that spares civilians from harm. The ICRC stressed that while it is vital that humanitarian aid continues to reach Gaza, it can only form part of the solution and that the main goal is to stop the war completely.

"The two sides should conduct their military operations in a way that spares civilians, the Committee wrote on the X network. The conflict escalated on October 7 when Hamas launched a large-scale attack on Israel, resulting in the deaths of 1,170 people, according to the French news agency AFP.

Of the 250 people abducted in the attack, 129 remained in Gaza, and 34 are presumed dead. In response to this attack, Israel launched military operations in Gaza, which resulted in the deaths of 32,175 people, according to Hamas' health ministry.

The cycle of violence and retaliation has only prolonged the suffering of innocent civilians, underscoring the urgent need for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. While the international community is grappling with the enormity of the crisis in Gaza, diplomatic efforts to mediate a ceasefire and restart peace talks have been intensified, but so far without much success.

Although several countries, including Israel's key allies, have called on Israel to stop further actions and attacks, the ultra-right government of Benjamin Netanyahu persistently refuses. Namely, Israel has a completely opposite attitude to the entire international community, and despite that, it firmly sticks to its, we can say, "unbelievable" attitudes.

In addition to addressing the immediate humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza, efforts must also be made to address the root causes of the conflict, including long-standing grievances and political grievances by both Israelis and Palestinians.

The international community must be united in calling for an immediate end to the violence and a return to the negotiating table to seek permanent solution to the conflict, but these calls must first of all be sincere. Hamas has several times accused the USA and President Biden of calling on Israel to stop the destruction in front of the cameras, but behind the curtain giving support to Netanyahu for his "campaign".

If this humanitarian disaster is not stopped soon, it will definitely be a betrayal of our common humanity and a failure of our collective responsibility as a civilization.