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UN: Disease, hunger inevitable in Gaza

November 17, 2023 at 12:21 pm

A woman tries to light a fire to make tea at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) refugee camp located in Khan Yunis, Gaza where displaced Palestinian families take shelter and try to maintain their daily lives under harsh conditions amid the Israeli attacks on Gaza, on November 15, 2023 [Bilal Khaled – Anadolu Agency]

Widespread outbreaks of disease and hunger seemed “inevitable” in Gaza after weeks of Israeli bombing campaigns on the densely populated Palestinian enclave, Reuters reported the United Nations human rights chief saying yesterday.

Speaking at an informal briefing to states at the United Nations in Geneva after visiting the Middle East, Volker Turk said the depletion of fuel would have a “catastrophic” impact across Gaza. “It would lead to the collapse of sewage systems, healthcare and end the scarce humanitarian aid being supplied.”

“Massive outbreaks of infectious disease, and hunger, seem inevitable,” Turk warned.

In comments to the media after his briefing to UN member states, Turk said lasting peace was impossible without an end to long-standing violations of human rights.

“Warnings by my office and others about human rights violations over many years have been ignored, not only in Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territory, but also by states with influence on the parties to this crisis,” he said.

“This needs to change for this conflict to be enduringly resolved.”

Turk, who described the bombardment by Israel as “of an intensity rarely experienced in this century,” also expressed concern about increasing violence and discrimination against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

“In my view, this creates a potentially explosive situation, and I want to be clear: we are well beyond the level of early warning,” Turk told states.

I am ringing the loudest possible alarm bell about the occupied West Bank.

Turk noted that “extremely serious allegations regarding multiple and profound violations of international humanitarian law, whoever committed them, require in-depth investigation and comprehensive accountability,” stressing, “the need for an international investigation.”

READ: Israel army destroys medical departments at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza