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Top UN officials harshly condemn attack on UNRWA training centre

Top UN officials harshly condemn attack on UNRWA training centre
25 Jan 2024 23:08

ISIDORA CIRIC (ABU DHABI)

The ongoing crisis in Gaza has escalated with recent attacks on buildings sheltering civilians, prompting a strong condemnation from top UN humanitarian officials.

Thomas White, the Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in a statement, has called for an immediate cessation of these attacks, labelling them as "abhorrent" and a blatant violation of international humanitarian law. The situation in Khan Younis, a southern city in Gaza, is particularly dire.

The UNRWA Khan Yunis training centre there was recently hit by two shells and set ablaze. In the surrounding area, the death toll has risen to at least 13, with 56 injured, 21 of whom are in critical condition, White said in a separate statement posted on UNRWA website.

"A number of missions to assess the situation were denied. Yesterday [Wednesday] evening, the UN finally managed to reach the affected areas to treat trauma patients, bring medical supplies and evacuate injured patients to Rafah", the statement added.

In a critical rescue mission, a World Health Organisation (WHO) team evacuated 45 patients from the UN training centre to Al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah. Despite their efforts, one patient died en route, and not all injured could be evacuated, said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General in a post on X. "We urge the protection of all civilians, humanitarians and health workers. We appeal for an immediate ceasefire", the post added.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres stressed the importance of delivering effective humanitarian aid to Gaza, calling for safety, equipment, more crossing points, and access to the north in a post on X. "I call for rapid, safe, unhindered, expanded & sustained humanitarian access throughout Gaza," the post added.

Phillipe Lazzarini, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), noted in a post on X that the attack targeted a clearly marked UN facility, calling the move "a blatant disregard of basic rules of war".

Martin Griffiths, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator (OCHA) echoed the condemnation. "Ordering trapped people to evacuate and bombing them before they can even do so is callous," he wrote in a post on X.
 

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