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World leaders, NGOs condemn deadly attack on World Central Kitchen aid workers

World leaders, NGOs condemn deadly attack on World Central Kitchen aid workers
3 Apr 2024 01:51


World leaders and humanitarian organisations from across the globe led a series of condemnations on Tuesday of deadly Israeli airstrikes that took the lives of seven World Central Kitchen (WCK) aid workers as they unloaded a humanitarian maritime shipment in Gaza on Monday.

The WCK said that, despite coordinating movements with the Israeli Defence Forces, “the convoy was hit as it was leaving the Deir al-Balah warehouse, where the team had unloaded more than 100 tons of humanitarian food aid brought to Gaza on the maritime route”.

The organisation, which has been delivering life-saving assistance to the people of Gaza in collaboration with many countries, including the UAE, will be pausing operations within the region “immediately”, the statement added.

“The WCK provides much-needed food assistance to a starving population. Humanitarian workers are not a target,” said UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini in a post on X, calling for a “complete reversal in policies from the Israeli Government” in a separate post.

Washington requested “a swift, thorough and impartial investigation”, said US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Tuesday, on the sidelines of his visit to Paris to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron.

"We shouldn't have a situation where people who are simply trying to help their fellow human beings are themselves at grave risk," Blinken added.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak urged Israel to take “immediate steps to protect aid workers and facilitate vital humanitarian operations in Gaza” in a post on X, while Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese criticised the "completely unacceptable" attack, calling it a "tragedy that should never have occurred" during a news conference in Brisbane.

President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, expressed her “deepest condolences” in a post on X, while EU Foreign Affairs chief Josep Borell condemned the attack and called for an investigation, stressing the importance of the recent UNSC resolution asking for an immediate ceasefire.

“Despite all the demands to protect civilians and humanitarian workers, we see new innocent casualties,” his post on X added.

Egypt and Jordan echoed the sentiments, with Jordan’s King Abdullah II expressing his “deepest condolences” to the organisation, adding that “humanitarian agencies must be protected in Gaza”, in a post on X.

Egypt reaffirmed its rejection of Israel’s “continued targeting of organisations working in the humanitarian field”, calling for an urgent investigation to hold those responsible accountable.

As the humanitarian situation in Gaza deteriorates, compounded by a looming famine faced by 2.2 million people, a lack of water and shelter, as well as the recent siege of the Al Shifa hospital, the need for aid workers and assistance is ever-growing.

However, safety has been a persistent issue, with over 196 humanitarian workers losing their lives since the escalation of the conflict on October 7, according to Aid Worker’s Security Database.

“This is not an isolated incident,” said Jamie McGoldrick, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in a statement.

"The role of aid workers is to alleviate the suffering of people in crisis. Their safety, along with that of the civilians they serve, must be guaranteed," his statement added.

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