Selangor Journal
Palestinians climb onto trucks to grab aid that was delivered into Gaza through a United States-built pier amid the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas in the central Gaza Strip, Palestine, on May 18, 2024. — Picture by REUTERS

World’s largest humanitarian network calls for Gaza ceasefire

MANILA, May 29 — The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) called for a ceasefire and unimpeded humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip today, where millions of people face worsening hunger.

The war-torn enclave is suffering from a humanitarian catastrophe nearly seven months after Israel launched a devastating offensive in response to the October 7, 2023, Hamas-led attacks that killed 1,200 people in Israel.

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) president Kate Forbes during her interview with Reuters in Manila, the Philippines, on May 29, 2024. — Picture by REUTERS

“We desperately need a political solution that will allow us to have a ceasefire to get aid in

“We’re ready to make a difference. We have to have access, and to have access, there has to be a ceasefire,” IFRC President Kate Forbes told Reuters in an interview in the Philippines’ capital Manila.

The IFRC president is a volunteer position and oversees a network that unites 191 organisations working during and after disasters and wars, like the Palestine Red Crescent Society, which has ambulance crews in Gaza.

In December, she became the second woman to ever hold the top job at the world’s largest humanitarian network.

Forbes said she had seen the “atrocious” situation in Rafah during a visit in February, months before Israel launched a military assault on the southern Gaza city, which had been sheltering over a million Palestinians who fled assaults on other parts of the enclave.

Smoke rises following an explosion in Gaza, amid the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, near the Israel-Gaza border, as seen from Israel, on May 28, 2024. — Picture by REUTERS

“There was not enough housing. There was no water; there were not enough sanitation toilets.

“We had a hospital with no equipment… and unfortunately, what I was afraid of has happened, and there was not going to be enough food,” she said.

Prospects for a resumption of mediated Gaza ceasefire talks grew over the weekend, even as Israel pressed on with its offensive in Gaza to eliminate the Palestinian Islamist militant group Hamas after the top United Nations court ordered Israel on Friday (May 24) to stop attacking Rafah.

Hamas has denied reports that talks would resume earlier this week. Both sides have blamed the other for the deadlock. Israel has said it cannot accept Hamas’ demand to end the war, while the Palestinians want Palestinian prisoners to be released.

“I plead with the governments on all sides to negotiate a ceasefire so that we can get aid in.

“My job is to ensure that when it (ceasefire) happens, we can give the aid that is necessary. And so they need to do their jobs so I can do my job” Forbes said.

— Reuters

An Israeli tank manoeuvres inside Gaza, amid the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, as seen from Israel, on May 28, 2024. — Picture by REUTERS

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