UN Gaza coordinator at EU meeting: “strong support for efforts on the ground”

“We discussed the very dire humanitarian situation and conditions inside Gaza and all aspects of security affecting UN and humanitarian partners’ ability to deliver assistance,” said Ms. Sigrid Kaag, Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza, while debriefing the media on her meeting with European Union Foreign Ministers in Brussels today (19 February). “Strong support was issued for this (Security Council) mission, for efforts on the ground,” she added after the Foreign Affairs Council.

At the meeting, Ms. Kaag and EU Foreign Ministers discussed how to improve humanitarian access to Gaza with a view to ensuring that assistance reaches the many in need.

The role of Ms. Kaag as Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza was established in the UN Security Council resolution 2720 (2023) with a view of facilitating, coordinating, monitoring, and verifying humanitarian relief consignments to Gaza and establishing a UN mechanism to facilitate these consignments.

After more than four months of war in Gaza, following the attacks by Hamas and others against towns and villages in Israel on 7 October, the 2.2 million Palestinians living in Gaza are in the midst of an humanitarian catastrophe. A quarter of Gaza’s population are grappling with alarming levels of food insecurity. The healthcare system is on the brink of collapse with only 13 of 36 hospitals partially functional.

Plan for humanitarian relief

Since her appointment on 8 January, former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance in the Dutch government, Ms. Kaag has met with members of the UN Security Council and concerned Member States in the Middle East, Gulf and beyond. This includes two rounds of meetings with members of the Israeli War Cabinet.

Based on these meetings, the UN coordinator outlined in her initial report to the Security Council key observations and recommendations on supply routes and access to Gaza by land, sea and air and on the fringe operational environment inside Gaza.

Addressing journalists in Brussels, the Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza confirmed that “not sufficient aid is coming in and; it is [becoming] increasingly hard to distribute it.”

Humanitarian operations of the UN and its partners continue to face denials of access, delays, impediments, communication blackouts and multiple dangers.

Ms. Kaag also acknowledged the fact “that the security conditions, separate from military operations, due to what is called ‘self-distribution’ by desperate civilians, but also looting and criminalisation, are hampering efforts by the humanitarian community – UN and international or local NGOs – to deliver assistance to the people that actually need it.”

With her visit to the EU, the UN Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza wishes to draw on the support of the 27-nation bloc to see a surge of life-saving humanitarian relief as well as early recovery efforts and, when conditions allow, the reconstruction of Gaza.

The Ministry of Health in Gaza reports a death toll of at least 28,500 Palestinians and 68,000 injured since October. Israeli military casualties stand at 230 soldiers killed and 1,352 injured since the start of ground operations, with over 1,200 Israelis and foreign nationals killed during attacks on Israel, mainly during the Hamas-led massacre of 7 October. Some 134 individuals remain captive in Gaza, according to Israeli authorities.


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