The Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, conveyed in a briefing at the UN headquarters in New York on Monday that the Israel-Hamas had resulted in the deaths of 89 UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) workers in Gaza for a month.
This number represents the highest toll for the agency in any similar timeframe, with many staff members perishing alongside their families. The UN employs a significant number of Palestinians in Gaza, which suffers from a high unemployment rate among its adult population.
Additionally, a collective appeal for an immediate cessation of hostilities was made on Sunday by leaders of various UN bodies and humanitarian organizations. They issued a unified declaration that the Israel-Hamas violence must end, terming the situation as intolerable. The statement highlighted their dismay and alarm at the casualties sustained and demanded the prompt liberation of hostages taken amid the hostilities.
Juliette Touma, UNRWA’s spokesperson, reported that UN staff fatalities amidst the Israel-Hamas conflict were increasing daily. The deaths occurred across different regions of Gaza, affecting men and women, some at home, others at shelters, and those transporting refugees to safe locations.
Incidents included the death of an employee while queuing for bread, and another killed at home with his wife and children, many of whom worked at the UN-run schools in the area.
The World Health Organization reported the death of 16 healthcare professionals on duty in Gaza, while the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies mourned the loss of seven staff members, including three medical personnel from Magen David Adom, Israel’s emergency service, who died attempting to save people from areas under attack.
Tommaso Della Longa, a spokesperson for the International Federation, remarked on the rapid escalation of the Isreal-Hamas situation as deeply disturbing and a grim reminder of the disregard for humanitarian workers.
The humanitarian chiefs’ declaration also censured the fatalities incurred in Israel, totaling approximately 1,400 lives, and the ongoing civilian trauma from rocket assaults. They criticized the substantial civilian death toll in Gaza, along with the severe deprivation of critical supplies, calling it appalling.
Signatories of the call for peace included prominent figures like Martin Griffiths, the UN’s senior humanitarian and relief official, and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization.
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