A call for urgent humanitarian ceasefire
More than 100 days have passed since the horrific October 7 attacks by Hamas that claimed the lives of more than 1,000 Israelis and others and resulted in the brutal seizing of hostages.
Every day I think of the anguish of the families I met.
I once again demand the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. In the interim, they must be treated humanely and allowed to receive visits and assistance from the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The accounts of sexual violence committed by Hamas and others on October 7 must be rigorously investigated and prosecuted.
Nothing can justify the deliberate killing, injuring, and kidnapping of civilians or the launching of rockets towards civilian targets.
At the same time, the onslaught on Gaza by Israeli forces over these 100 days has unleashed wholesale destruction and levels of civilian killings at a rate that is unprecedented during my years as secretary general.
The vast majority of those killed are women and children. Nothing can justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.
The humanitarian situation in Gaza is beyond words. Nowhere and no one is safe. Traumatised people are being pushed into increasingly limited areas in the south that are becoming intolerably and dangerously congested.
While there have been some steps to increase the flow of humanitarian assistance into Gaza, life-saving relief is not getting to people who have endured months of relentless assault at anywhere near the scale needed.
The long shadow of starvation is stalking the people of Gaza, along with disease, malnutrition, and other health threats.
I am deeply troubled by the clear violation of international humanitarian law that we are witnessing.
An effective aid operation in Gaza — or anywhere else — requires certain basics. It requires security. It requires an environment where staff can work in safety. It requires the necessary logistics and the resumption of commercial activity.
The obstacles to aid are clear ,and they have been identified not only by the UN but by officials from around the globe who have seen the situation for themselves.
First, the UN and our partners cannot effectively deliver humanitarian aid while Gaza is under such heavy, widespread, and unrelenting bombardment. This endangers the lives of those who receive aid and those who deliver it.
We continue to call for rapid, safe, unhindered, expanded, and sustained humanitarian access into and across Gaza. Second, the aid operation faces significant hurdles at the Gaza border.
Vital materials — including life-saving medical equipment and parts which are critical for the repair of water facilities and infrastructure — have been rejected with little or no explanation, disrupting the flow of critical supplies and the resumption of basic services.
And when one item is denied, the time-consuming approval process starts again from scratch for the entire cargo.
Third, the aid operation faces major impediments to distribution within Gaza. This includes repeated denials of access to the north, where hundreds of thousands of people remain. Since the start of the year, only seven of 29 missions to deliver aid to the north have been able to proceed.
We need an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.
UN secretary general