UN calls for more aid access to prevent famine, deadly disease in Gaza

UN calls for more aid access to prevent famine, deadly disease in Gaza
The Israel-Hamas war, now in its 100th day, has sparked a humanitarian catastrophe for Gaza's 2.4 million people, who are struggling to get food, water, fuel and medical care. (File/AP)
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Updated 15 January 2024
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UN calls for more aid access to prevent famine, deadly disease in Gaza

UN calls for more aid access to prevent famine, deadly disease in Gaza
  • Getting enough supplies into and across Gaza now depends on opening supply routes and allowing more trucks through border checks each day.

ROME/GENEVA/NEW YORK: UN agencies on Monday called for faster and safer aid access to prevent famine and deadly disease outbreaks in Gaza.

The UN agencies warned that as the risk of famine grows, “a fundamental step change in the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza is urgently needed,” according to a statement seen by Arab News.

The World Food Programme, UNICEF and the World Health Organization said that getting enough supplies into and across Gaza now depends on opening supply routes and allowing more trucks through border checks each day.

The agencies called for fewer restrictions on the movement of humanitarian workers and guarantees of safety for people accessing and distributing aid.

“Without the ability to produce or import food, the entire population of Gaza relies on aid to survive. But humanitarian aid alone cannot meet the essential needs of the Gaza people.

“The UN, international aid agencies and non-governmental organizations have so far managed to deliver limited humanitarian assistance in Gaza, despite extraordinarily difficult conditions, but the quantities fall far short of what is needed to prevent a deadly combination of hunger, malnutrition and disease,” the statement said.

Northern areas in the besieged Gaza Strip are experiencing severe shortages of food, clean water and medical assistance, it added.

“People in Gaza risk dying of hunger just miles from trucks filled with food,” said WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain. “Every hour lost puts countless lives at risk. We can keep famine at bay but only if we can deliver sufficient supplies and have safe access to everyone in need, wherever they are.”

The latest Integrated Food Security and Nutrition Phase Classification report found that the entire population of Gaza — about 2.2 million people — are in crisis or worse levels of acute food insecurity.

Almost all Palestinians in Gaza are skipping meals every day while many adults go hungry so that children can eat, the report said, warning of famine if conditions persist.

The WFP has provided food inside Gaza every day since Oct. 7, reaching more than 900,000 people with food assistance in December.

This required new ways of operating with local partners, including finding safe sites for distribution, channeling wheat flour into bakeries to resume production and distributing special food supplements to help children fight off malnutrition.

On Thursday, the WFP’s first food convoy to north Gaza since the humanitarian pause delivered supplies for about 8,000 people.

The conflict has also damaged or destroyed essential water, sanitation and health infrastructure and services, limiting the ability of humanitarian workers to treat severe malnutrition and infectious disease outbreaks.

Children at high risk

With Gaza’s 335,000 children aged under five especially vulnerable, UNICEF projected that, in the next few weeks, child wasting, the most life-threatening form of malnutrition in children, could increase from pre-crisis conditions by almost 30 percent, affecting up to 10,000 children.

“Children at high risk of dying from malnutrition and disease desperately need medical treatment, clean water and sanitation services, but the conditions on the ground do not allow us to safely reach children and families in need,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell. “Some of the material we desperately need to repair and increase water supply remains restricted from entering Gaza. The lives of children and their families are hanging in the balance. Every minute counts.”

UNICEF has warned since November that children in southern Gaza are only accessing 1.5 to 2 liters of water per day, well below the recommended level for survival. To address this, UNICEF and partners have provided safe drinking water to more than 1.3 million people, but much more is needed to address the desperate conditions.

The UN agencies said that Israeli authorization to use a working port close to the Gaza Strip and border crossing points into the north is critically needed.

Access to Ashdod port, roughly 40 km to the north, would enable significantly more aid to be delivered and transported directly to badly affected northern areas of Gaza, which few convoys have managed to reach.


Iran to hold presidential election on June 28: state media

Iran to hold presidential election on June 28: state media
Updated 5 sec ago
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Iran to hold presidential election on June 28: state media

Iran to hold presidential election on June 28: state media
The election calendar was approved at the meeting of the heads of the judiciary, government, and parliament

TEHRAN: Iran announced Monday it will hold presidential elections on June 28, state media reported, following the death of President Ebrahim Raisi and his entourage in a helicopter crash.
“The election calendar was approved at the meeting of the heads of the judiciary, government, and parliament,” state television said.
“According to the initial agreement of the Guardian Council, it was decided that the 14th presidential election will be held on June 28.”

US says Houthis fired ballistic missile over Gulf of Aden

US says Houthis fired ballistic missile over Gulf of Aden
Updated 20 May 2024
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US says Houthis fired ballistic missile over Gulf of Aden

US says Houthis fired ballistic missile over Gulf of Aden
  • “This continued malign and reckless behavior by the Iranian-backed Houthis threatens regional stability and endangers the lives of mariners,” CENTCOM said
  • The Houthis did not claim credit for any fresh assaults on Monday, but they regularly do days later

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s Houthi militia launched a ballistic missile over the Gulf of Aden on Sunday, the US military said.
This comes as the Houthis intensified attacks on Yemeni government soldiers around the country.
The US military said in a statement on Monday morning Yemen time that at about 9:35 p.m. (Sanaa time) on Sunday, the Houthis launched one anti-ship ballistic missile from Yemen over the Gulf of Aden, but neither the US-led coalition nor international commercial ships reported being hit by the missile.
“This continued malign and reckless behavior by the Iranian-backed Houthis threatens regional stability and endangers the lives of mariners across the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden,” CENTCOM said.
The Houthis did not claim credit for any fresh assaults on Monday, but they regularly do days later.
The Houthis’ newest missile launch is part of an escalation of missile and drone strikes against commercial and navy ships in international seas near Yemen as well as in the Indian Ocean, which the Houthis claim are in support of Palestine.
The Houthis attacked dozens of ships with hundreds of ballistic missiles, drones and drone boats during their campaign against ships, which started in November.
They also took control of one commercial ship and destroyed another.
The US military said on Saturday that a Greek-owned and operated oil tanker heading toward China in the Red Sea, flying the flag of Panama, barely avoided being struck by a ballistic missile launched by the Houthis.
Meanwhile, four Yemeni government troops were killed on Monday while battling the Houthis in the province of Taiz, bringing the total number of soldiers killed in Houthi attacks to 11 in less than a week.
Local media said that the government’s Nation’s Shield Forces engaged in heavy fighting with the Houthis in the Hayfan area, on the border between Taiz and Lahj provinces, that left four of its soldiers dead.
On Saturday, a soldier from the same Yemeni military unit was killed and another injured while defending their position in Haydan against a Houthi onslaught.
Six more Yemeni soldiers from the government’s Giants Brigades were killed on Saturday in fighting with the Houthis in the Al-Abadia region of Marib’s central province.
On Monday, the Houthis held a military burial procession in Sanaa for two of their troops killed while battling with Yemeni government forces.
The Houthis have organized similar funerals for hundreds of fighters who have died on the front lines ever since the UN-brokered ceasefire came into effect in April 2022.
At the same time, official media said that Yemen’s Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Mohsen Al-Daeri met the UN Yemen envoy’s military adviser, General Antony Hayward, in Aden on Sunday to discuss Houthi attacks on government troops across the country, peace efforts to end the war, and the smuggling of Iranian weapons to the Houthis.
Al-Daeri said that the Houthis had breached agreements with the Yemeni government and would continue to pose a danger to international maritime lines as long as they controlled Yemeni territory on the Red Sea.
He also accused Iran of continuing to supply weapons and military officers to the Houthis through direct journeys from Iran’s Bandar Abbas port to the Houthi-controlled Hodeidah port.
On Monday, UN experts, including Nazila Ghanea, special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, urged the Houthis to release five members of the Bahai religious minority and to stop persecuting religious minorities in regions they control.
“We urge the de facto authorities to release these five individuals immediately and refrain from any further action that may jeopardize their physical and psychological integrity,” the experts said.
Armed Houthis abducted 17 Bahais, including five women, after bursting into a meeting in Sanaa a year ago, and they have refused to release them despite local and international requests.
According to the UN experts, the Houthis released 12 Bahais under “very strict conditions” after signing a written pledge not to communicate with other sect members, avoid religious activities and not leave cities without permission, and that the Houthis continue to hold five who are at risk of mistreatment by their captors.
“We are concerned that they continue to be at serious risk of torture and other human rights violations, including acts tantamount to enforced disappearance,” the UN experts said.


Egypt mourns death of Iran’s president

A person walks past a banner with a picture of the late Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi on a street in Tehran, Iran May 20, 2024.
A person walks past a banner with a picture of the late Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi on a street in Tehran, Iran May 20, 2024.
Updated 20 May 2024
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Egypt mourns death of Iran’s president

A person walks past a banner with a picture of the late Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi on a street in Tehran, Iran May 20, 2024.
  • The Egyptian president expressed Egypt’s solidarity with the leadership and people of Iran during this tragic time

CAIRO: Egypt mourned the deaths of Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

Egypt’s presidency said in a statement: “It is with deep grief and sorrow that the Arab Republic of Egypt mourns the death of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and their escorts on Sunday in a tragic crash.

“President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi extends his sincere condolences to the people of Iran, asking Allah to envelop President Raisi and the deceased with his mercy and grant solace and comfort to their families.”

The Egyptian president expressed Egypt’s solidarity with the leadership and people of Iran during this tragic time.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry extended his condolences to the Iranian government and people over the deaths of Raisi and Amir-Abdollahian, according to ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid.

A helicopter carrying Raisi, Amir-Abdollahian, and several other officials crashed in mountainous terrain in the country’s northwest on Sunday. On Monday, Tehran announced the deaths of Raisi, Amir-Abdollahian, and their accompanying delegation in the crash.

 


Israel calls ICC prosecutor’s bid for PM arrest warrant a ‘historical disgrace’

Israel calls ICC prosecutor’s bid for PM arrest warrant a ‘historical disgrace’
Updated 20 May 2024
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Israel calls ICC prosecutor’s bid for PM arrest warrant a ‘historical disgrace’

Israel calls ICC prosecutor’s bid for PM arrest warrant a ‘historical disgrace’
  • Katz denounced the move as a “scandalous decision” that amounted to “a frontal attack... on the victims of October 7“
  • The minister added that Israel would establish a special committee to fight the ICC prosecutor’s efforts to secure a warrant

JERUSALEM: Israel on Monday slammed as a “historical disgrace” an application by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court for an arrest warrant for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The prosecutor, Karim Khan, applied for arrest warrants against Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant as well as top Hamas leaders on suspicion of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Foreign Minister Israel Katz said that Khan “in the same breath mentions the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense of the State of Israel alongside the abominable Nazi monsters of Hamas — a historical disgrace that will be remembered forever.”
The prosecutor said he was seeking warrants against Netanyahu and Gallant for crimes including “wilful killing,” “extermination and/or murder” and “starvation.”
Katz denounced the move as a “scandalous decision” that amounted to “a frontal attack... on the victims of October 7” when Hamas launched their attack on Israel, sparking the Gaza war.
The minister added that Israel would establish a special committee to fight the ICC prosecutor’s efforts to secure a warrant, and also embark on a diplomatic push against it.
Katz said he planned to “speak with foreign ministers in leading countries of the world so that they oppose the prosecutor’s decision and announce that, even if orders are issued, they do not intend to enforce them on the leaders of the State of Israel.”


35,562 Palestinians killed in Gaza offensive since Oct. 7 — health ministry

35,562 Palestinians killed in Gaza offensive since Oct. 7 — health ministry
Updated 20 May 2024
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35,562 Palestinians killed in Gaza offensive since Oct. 7 — health ministry

35,562 Palestinians killed in Gaza offensive since Oct. 7 — health ministry
  • 106 Palestinians were killed and 176 injured in the past 24 hours

DUBAI: More than 35,562 Palestinians have been killed and 79,652 injured in the Israeli military offensive on Gaza since Oct. 7, the Gaza health ministry said in a statement on Monday.
One hundred and six Palestinians were killed and 176 injured in the past 24 hours, the ministry added.