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12 Dec, 2023 11:57

UN to vote on ceasefire amid Gaza starvation concerns

A UN refugee agency says too many people in the Palestinian enclave haven’t eaten for days
UN to vote on ceasefire amid Gaza starvation concerns

The population of Gaza is suffering from hunger as the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) prepares to vote on a humanitarian ceasefire on Tuesday, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) reported.

The agency also warned that it is “on the verge of collapse,” meaning that the humanitarian aid on which almost the entire population of Gaza depends is also at risk.

According to UNRWA's statement on X (formerly Twitter), too many Gazans “haven't eaten now for two, three days.”  It says that the agency's staff are doing their best, but vital supplies such as food, water and fuel are “systematically used as weapons of war in Gaza. Hunger stalks everyone.”

On Friday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said “there is a serious risk of starvation and famine,” noting that 97% of households in northern Gaza and 83% of displaced people in the south “are not eating enough.”

He added that UN agencies and their partners are unable to reach most people in need due to intense shelling and hostilities, and called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire to protect civilians and ensure the urgent delivery of lifesaving aid.

Also on Friday, however, the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution proposed by the UAE demanding a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza was vetoed by the US. Commenting on this decision, Washington said that an “unsustainable” ceasefire “will only plant the seeds for the next war,” adding that Israel “has the right to defend itself.”

On Tuesday, the UNGA will resume its special emergency session on Palestine. This was prompted by a request from Egypt and Mauritania, whose representatives considered it necessary to convene an emergency session to resolve the crisis in Gaza, citing the “Uniting for Peace” resolution, which states that if the UNSC fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, the UNGA shall act on its own. However, General Assembly resolutions are only recommendations, and are not legally binding.

The Gaza conflict escalated on October 7 after the Palestinian militant group Hamas attacked Israel, killing some 1,200 people and kidnapping some 240. In response, West Jerusalem launched airstrikes and a ground operation in the Palestinian enclave. During a week-long ceasefire that began in late November, 108 hostages were released.

The death toll in Gaza has reached 18,000, about 70 percent of whom are reported to be women and children, and over 49,000 have been injured, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.