UN Secretary-General António Guterres visited the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing with Gaza on Friday, from where he stressed on the need for a ceasefire.
“We don’t want to punish the people of Gaza twice. First because of the war and second because of the lack of humanitarian aid (…) it is clear that a humanitarian ceasefire will make things much easier and much safer for everyone,” Guterres told a press conference.
The Rafah crossing is the only crossing point between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. Guterres said some 175 truckloads of humanitarian aid, medical supplies, food and blankets urgently need to enter the Gaza Strip, for which a ceasefire is needed.
“It is absolutely necessary that these trucks enter as soon as possible and as many as necessary,” the UN chief said. Trucks are needed to enter “every day into Gaza to provide sufficient support to the Gazan people,” Guterres said.
He said the large convoy loaded with humanitarian aid is “the difference between life and death” for the Palestinian people. Aid lines up near the crossing, hoping to enter Gaza but blocked by Israeli shelling.
It’s impossible to be at the Rafah crossing & not feel heartbroken.
Behind these walls there are 2 million people in Gaza with no water, food, medicine, fuel.
On this side, these trucks have what they need.
We need to make them move—as soon as possible, as many as necessary. pic.twitter.com/GaogVeKtsl
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres)
October 20, 2023
The UN chief denounced that “more than two million people in the Gaza Strip are suffering from a lack of water, food, fuel and essential materials.”
Guterres’ remarks came ahead of the planned opening of the border crossing to bring needed aid to the besieged Palestinian enclave. Israel and the U.S. recently announced that aid would be allowed into Gaza, under certain conditions and restrictions.
In this regard, he highlighted the ongoing efforts with the parties involved towards limiting those restrictions so that these trucks move as quickly as possible to where they are needed.
Earlier, Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, had stated that the parties involved were close to reaching an agreement on the modalities of the aid operation and that the first delivery would begin in the coming days.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is expected to distribute the aid, according to the Secretary General.