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ICRC president describes human suffering in Gaza as ‘intolerable’

December 5, 2023 at 10:36 am

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) President Mirjana Spoljaric in Avully near Geneva, on June 7, 2023 [FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images]

The President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Mirjana Spoljaric, has called for the unimpeded flow of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, and described the level of suffering of the people of the besieged Strip as “intolerable” during her first visit to the enclave since the beginning of the Israeli aggression.

“The level of human suffering is intolerable. It is unacceptable that civilians have no safe place to go in Gaza, and with a military siege in place there is also no adequate humanitarian response currently possible,” explained Spoljaric in an official statement. She renewed the ICRC’s call for civilians to be protected in line with the laws of war and for aid to enter unimpeded.

“The purpose of my visit [to Gaza] is to advance efforts that alleviate the desperate humanitarian situation. I will convey my deep concern for the plight of civilians and underline the ICRC’s utmost commitment to doing everything we can to ease their suffering. We have urgently appealed for civilian life to be protected and respected on all sides, in line with international humanitarian law, and I reiterate that appeal today.”

In a video message circulated later on social media, the ICRC official added, “The things I saw [in the European Hospital in Gaza] is beyond anything that anyone should be in a position to describe. What shocked me most were the children, with atrocious injuries and at the same time having lost their parents with no-on looking after them.”

Spoljaric praised the humanitarian truce that was in effect last week, noting the ICRC’s willingness to support similar agreements that could reduce the suffering of the people of Gaza. “The last week provided a small degree of humanitarian respite, a positive glimpse of humanity that raised hopes around the world that a path to reduced suffering could now be found. As a neutral actor, the ICRC stands ready to support further humanitarian agreements that reduce suffering and heartbreak.”

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