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Joint statement on humanitarian supplies crossing into Gaza

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Joint statement by United Nations Children's Fund, United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Population Fund, World Food Programme and World Health Organization.

NEW YORK/GENEVA/ROME, 21 October 2023
 – “A first, but limited, shipment of life-saving humanitarian supplies from the United Nations and the Egyptian Red Crescent entered Gaza today on 20 trucks, passing through the Rafah Crossing.

“It will provide an urgently needed lifeline to some of the hundreds of thousands of civilians, mostly women and children, who have been cut off from water, food, medicine, and other essentials. But it is only a small beginning and far from enough. More than 1.6 million people in Gaza are in critical need of humanitarian aid. Children, pregnant women and the elderly remain the most vulnerable. Nearly half of Gaza’s population are children.

“With so much civilian infrastructure in Gaza damaged or destroyed in nearly two weeks of consistent bombings, including shelters, health facilities, water, sanitation, and electrical systems, time is running out before mortality rates could skyrocket due to disease outbreaks and lack of healthcare capacity.

“Hospitals are overwhelmed with casualties. Civilians face mounting challenges in accessing essential food supplies. Health facilities no longer have fuel and are running on small amounts they have secured locally. These are expected to run out in the next day or so. Water production capacity is at 5 per cent of normal levels. Pre-positioned humanitarian supplies have already been depleted. Vulnerable people are at greatest risk and children are dying at an alarming rate and being denied their right to protection, food, water and health care. 

“Nearly one-third of the population of Palestine was food insecure before this conflict in Gaza. Today stocks in shops are nearly exhausted and bakeries are closing, while tens of thousands of people are displaced and unable to cook or safely purchase food. 

“We call for a humanitarian ceasefire, along with immediate, unrestricted humanitarian access throughout Gaza to allow humanitarian actors to reach civilians in need, save lives and prevent further human suffering. Flows of humanitarian aid must be at scale and sustained, and allow all Gazans to preserve their dignity.

“We call for safe and sustained access to water, food, health - including sexual and reproductive health, and fuel, which is necessary to enable essential services.

“We call for the protection of all civilians and civilian infrastructure in Gaza, including healthcare facilities.

“We call for the protection of humanitarian workers in Gaza who are risking their lives for the service of others. 

“And we call for the utmost respect of international humanitarian law by all parties.

“Gaza was a desperate humanitarian situation before the most recent hostilities. It is now catastrophic. The world must do more.”

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