Scroll Top

UN Chief Guterres Calls for Immediate Reopening of Gaza Crossings to Alleviate Humanitarian Crisis

Photo: Reuters

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has issued an urgent plea for the reopening of the Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossing points into Gaza, emphasizing the dire humanitarian consequences of their continued closure. The appeal came during a press briefing on Tuesday, where the Secretary-General underscored the critical need for humanitarian aid in the beleaguered Palestinian territory. Gaza, a densely populated strip of land that sits along the Mediterranean coast, has long been the epicenter of a protracted humanitarian crisis, exacerbated by blockades and recurrent conflicts. The closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing, the main artery for humanitarian supplies into Gaza, by Israeli authorities on Sunday, followed by the seizure of control at the Rafah crossing on the Egyptian border, has cut off the vital flow of aid and raised alarms about the potential for an escalated humanitarian disaster. “Closing the crossing points at Rafah and Kerem Shalom at the same time is particularly bad for the already desperate humanitarian situation,” Guterres stated, addressing the media. “They must be reopened immediately.”

The comments made by the UN chief coincide with an increase in regional tensions. In reaction to the attack on Israel by Hamas on October 7, 2023, Israel closed these crossings. But for Gaza’s almost two million citizens, who mainly depend on outside assistance for needs like food, medicine, and fuel, such acts have grave humanitarian ramifications.
The urgency of the situation was underscored by Guterres’s warning that Gaza could run out of fuel as early as the evening of his address, a scenario which would have immediate and severe impacts on essential services such as hospital operations, water supply, and sanitation services.
The Kerem Shalom crossing, in particular, is a lifeline for Gaza, serving as the conduit for the vast majority of goods entering the region, including medical supplies, food, and fuel. Its closure has not only disrupted the delivery of these essential items but also has wider repercussions for the already fragile economy of Gaza, affecting trade and livelihoods.
The Rafah crossing, while less central to the flow of goods, is a critical point for the movement of people, providing Gazans with a rare passage to and from the enclave. Its closure traps students, medical patients, and other travelers, adding a human dimension to the logistical challenges of the blockade.
The international community, including various UN agencies, has repeatedly raised concerns about the humanitarian impact of the Israeli blockade on Gaza, which has been in place since 2007. The blockade has been described by human rights organizations as a form of collective punishment, which is prohibited under international law.
Secretary-General Guterres’s call for the immediate reopening of the crossings is a reflection of the broader UN position that humanitarian access should not be used as a bargaining chip or subjected to political and security considerations. The need to separate humanitarian needs from political issues is a cornerstone of international humanitarian law, which seeks to protect the rights and well-being of civilians in conflict zones.
The residents of Gaza must wait anxiously for the restart of relief supplies while the world watches for the UN chief’s appeal to be answered. The situation emphasises how unstable life is in the Strip and how urgently a lasting peace agreement that protects the rights and dignity of all parties concerned is needed.
By Sanjida Jannat

Related Posts