UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock on Tuesday called for a humanitarian pause in the escalating violence in Israel and Gaza.
“I call on all parties to the hostilities to agree to a humanitarian pause to allow for emergency humanitarian relief distribution and for civilians to purchase food and water, seek medical care and attend to other emergency needs,” the UN humanitarian chief said in a statement.
“The current escalation of hostilities has caused immense suffering. I abhor the violence that has killed and injured scores of children and other civilians and caused extensive damage to homes and vital infrastructure,” he said.
“The hostilities must stop,” said Lowcock. “I echo the secretary-general’s calls for the parties to stop the aerial and artillery bombardments and the indiscriminate launching of rockets. These acts have brought nothing but death, destruction and widespread trauma throughout the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel.”
He noted that the parties must respect international humanitarian law, including the fundamental principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution.
“All parties must take constant care to spare civilians and civilian objects from harm,” the UN humanitarian chief added.
Noting that “adequate funding” is needed to enable a speedy response and “access is paramount,” Lowcock called on donors to accelerate their contributions to the oPt Humanitarian Fund, the emergency pooled fund for the occupied Palestinian territory, without delay.
“This is for immediate needs; the secretary-general and I will be launching a fuller appeal shortly,” he added.
“The crossings with Gaza need to be opened and to remain as such for the entrance of essential and humanitarian supplies, including fuel for basic services and supplies to curb the spread of COVID-19. Opening the crossings will also ensure the exit of patients who need life-saving treatment and the entry of special surgical emergency teams to tend to the wounded,” Lowcock stressed.