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Reassessing Humanitarian Efforts in Gaza: A Critical Examination of Failures and Necessary Solutions

Tuesday, 31 October 2023 20:45 Opinion

"Critical Assessment of Humanitarian Response in Gaza: Urgent Need for Effective International Assistance"

The recent atrocities perpetrated by Hamas on October 7th have left the international community scrambling to respond, with policymakers caught off guard. However, the ensuing humanitarian crisis and Israel's predictable reaction demand a more substantial and proactive approach. Current relief efforts, exemplified by the recent £20m aid pledge from the British government, appear tokenistic in the face of the scale and duration of the unfolding tragedy.

With over 2 million people in dire need of life-saving assistance, the available resources are woefully inadequate. The toll of death, suffering, and misery from the scarcity of food, water, and medical aid could soon surpass that caused by the bombings. The escalating aerial bombings, coupled with intense ground operations, exacerbate the situation, leading to growing desperation and fraying public order.

To catalyze an effective international response, a crucial first step should be a humanitarian resolution in the UN Security Council, as seen in previous Gaza crises, including 2009. It is perplexing that an agreement on such a resolution has not been reached. The failure to coordinate with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the only Middle Eastern country currently on the Security Council, resulted in a blockage by the UAE, along with Russia and China. The issue lies not in substantive action but in the wording that balances condemnation of Hamas while acknowledging Israel's rights and limitations.

A diplomatic resolution to this wording issue should be prioritized, bringing forth a new resolution acceptable to the UAE. This would align the Security Council with the majority stance of recent votes in the General Assembly, reinforcing its role as the most potent and relevant body for addressing crises of this magnitude. Time is of the essence, and the international community must act swiftly to prevent further deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Gaza."

"Urgent Steps Toward Humanitarian Relief in Gaza: A Call for Decisive Action"

Amid the ongoing crisis in Gaza, the imperative for deconfliction arrangements for aid agencies becomes increasingly clear. While a ceasefire is the desired outcome for aid organizations, historical precedent shows that, in its absence, combatants can agree on arrangements, often involving the UN, to safeguard humanitarian efforts. Drawing on the example of Yemen, where aid agencies safely operated amidst conflict, similar mechanisms are essential for Gaza.

Practical steps involve implementing humanitarian pauses and corridors, allowing for the unimpeded delivery of aid. Plans must also be laid out for a substantial expansion of relief efforts beyond the limited flow of essential supplies through the Rafah crossing from Egypt into Gaza. The UN is expected to publish a comprehensive response plan, likely spanning an initial six months and requiring substantial funding in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

An emergency financing conference, potentially hosted in Geneva and chaired by a credible entity like Sweden or Switzerland, should be promptly convened to ensure immediate funding of the response plan. The active involvement of donors, particularly from the west and Middle Eastern countries, is crucial to guaranteeing a fully funded and robust humanitarian response.

The plight of the people in Gaza is dire, with recent destruction robbing them of homes, basic amenities, and even the most fundamental aspects of daily life. The urgency of the situation demands swift and substantial humanitarian intervention to avert further loss of life. Without decisive action, the people of Gaza face an increasingly grim reality. Lives hang in the balance, and the time for meaningful humanitarian operations is now. Mark Lowcock, former head of humanitarian affairs at the UN, urges the international community to act swiftly and decisively to save lives in Gaza."

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