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IASC warns Gaza nearing catastrophe, urges world leaders to take urgent action

In a harrowing declaration, the principals of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) issued a desperate plea for urgent action as the Gaza Strip faces an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Since the brutal attacks on October 7, 2023, tens of thousands of Palestinians, primarily women and children, have fallen victim to the escalating violence. The situation is dire, with over three-quarters of the population displaced and grappling with severe shortages of necessities.

The health system, a lifeline for the embattled residents, is on the verge of collapse. Shockingly, only 12 out of 36 hospitals with inpatient capacity are still operational, and even those are only partially functioning. The onslaught on healthcare facilities has been relentless, with more than 370 attacks recorded since October 7th.

The toll on civilians is catastrophic—diseases abound, starvation looms, and water supplies are diminishing to a trickle. Basic infrastructure has been destroyed, and food production has ceased. Hospitals, which were supposed to be sanctuaries, have been turned into battlefields. The disturbing reality is that one million youngsters are subjected to everyday misery in this war-torn enclave.

The latest battleground, Rafah, is now a refuge for over a million displaced and traumatised individuals. However, any further escalation in violence in this densely populated area could result in mass casualties and potentially deal a death blow to the already beleaguered humanitarian response.

The signatories to the statement emphasised that there is no safe place in Gaza and that humanitarian workers who have been displaced are working tirelessly to deliver aid to those in need, but their efforts are hampered by a variety of obstacles, including safety concerns and movement restrictions.

In the joint statement, the IASC principals suggested ten imperative measures to prevent a worsening catastrophe in Gaza. These include an immediate ceasefire to facilitate humanitarian aid delivery, the safeguarding of civilians and critical infrastructure, and ensuring the swift release of hostages. The principals emphasise establishing reliable entry points for aid, security assurances for unimpeded passage, and implementing a functional humanitarian notification system. Additionally, they call for the clearance of explosive ordnance in roads and neighbourhoods, the creation of a stable communication network for secure movement, and crucial support for UNRWA to ensure it receives the necessary resources for life-saving assistance. 

The petition closed with a call to halt disparaging tactics against the United Nations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) engaging in lifesaving efforts. This united appeal to action emphasises the importance of meeting these critical objectives to avoid further disaster in the embattled region.

The principals emphasise their unwavering commitment despite the risks but stress that they cannot be left alone to pick up the pieces. They call on Israel to fulfil its legal obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law and urge world leaders to prevent a further descent into catastrophe.

Signatories to this urgent appeal include prominent figures such as Mr. Martin Griffiths, Emergency Relief Coordinator; Ms. Sofia Sprechmann Sineiro, Secretary-General of CARE International; and Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation, among others.

As the world watches, the fate of Gaza hangs in the balance, and the principals are sounding the alarm, imploring leaders to act swiftly before the situation deteriorates even further, the signatories pointed out.

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