Gaza: as hostilities resume, Ban urges ‘swift’ return to ceasefire, negotiations

WFP steps up food distribution to conflict-affected people in Gaza. Photo: WFP/Ayman Shublaq

8 August 2014 – Amid renewed hostilities in Gaza, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called firmly on the parties to the conflict not to resort to further military action but “swiftly find a way back to respect of the humanitarian ceasefire and continue negotiations in Cairo.”

“The Secretary-General expresses his deep disappointment that the parties were unable to agree to an extension of the ceasefire in their talks in Cairo,” said a statement issued by a UN spokesperson in New York.

Media reports suggest that Palestinian militants in Gaza refused to extend a ceasefire that has held for the past three days and resumed rocket fire into Israel. As a result Israeli air strikes on the enclave reportedly began earlier this morning.

“[The Secretary-General] condemns the renewed rocket fire towards Israel. More suffering and death of civilians caught up in this conflict is intolerable,” said the statement from the UN chief’s spokesperson.

Mr. Ban urged the parties to swiftly find a way back to respect of the humanitarian ceasefire and to continue negotiations in Cairo to reach a durable ceasefire. “The extension of the ceasefire is absolutely essential for talks to progress and to address the underlying issues of the crisis as soon as possible,” continued the statement, adding that the Secretary-General firmly calls on the parties not to resort to further military action that can only exacerbate the already “appalling” humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Meanwhile on the ground, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that, during the 72 hour ceasefire, aid agencies began to assess needs and stepped up the delivery of urgently needed relief.

Humanitarian needs remain enormous, with the provision of fresh food and drinkable water the most pressing, according to OCHA.

During the pause, rescue teams were able to retrieved additional bodies, bringing the cumulative death toll of Palestinians to 1,922, of whom 1,407 are believed to be civilians and 448 of those were identified as children. More than 9,500 people have been injured.

OCHA’s latest situation report also states that 67 Israelis have been killed in the month-long conflict, including 64 soldiers, and three civilians, including one foreign national.

The number of people displaced by the violence remains fluid; as of last night, nearly 200,000 people were sheltering in 119 UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and government schools (166,000 of them in 90 UNRWA shelters).

The UN says that preliminary estimates indicate that some 65,000 people whose homes were totally destroyed or heavily damaged need urgent support, including basic household items. The ceasefire allowed for some repairs of critical electricity, water and sanitation infrastructure by local authorities.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has provided ready-to-eat food rations every day to 330,000 people sheltered in UNRWA and government schools. Some 46,000 household kits have been distributed since the beginning of the conflict.

In addition, UNRWA continues to distribute water to emergency shelters and their Community Mental Health Programme has provided psychosocial support to 73,000 parents and conducted recreational activities for 79,000 children.


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