UN agency, NGO heads make rare joint plea for Israel-Hamas ceasefire

UNICEF, UN Women and other agencies express ‘shock and horror’ at the mounting death toll from the conflict.

The heads of 18 United Nations agencies have called for an immediate halt to fighting between Israel and Hamas [File: Carlo Allegri/Reuters]

The leaders of 18 United Nations agencies and non-profit organisations (NGO) have called for an immediate ceasefire in the Israeli-Hamas war, expressing “shock and horror” at the mounting death toll from the conflict.

“We need an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. It’s been 30 days. Enough is enough,” the UN and NGO heads said in a rare joint statement on Sunday. “This must stop now.”

The UN and NGO chiefs, including the leaders of UNICEF, UN Women, the World Food Program, the World Health Organization and Save the Children, described the killings of both Israelis and Palestinians over the past month as “horrific”.

At least 9,770 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed in Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, according to authorities in the Hamas-governed enclave.

More than 1,400 people, mainly civilians, were killed in Hamas’s October 7 attacks on southern Israel, according to Israeli authorities.

“For almost a month, the world has been watching the unfolding situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory in shock and horror at the spiralling numbers of lives lost and torn apart,” the statement said.

The UN and NGO heads called on all parties to respect their “obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law”, including to protect civilian infrastructure such as hospitals and schools and allow aid into Gaza.

It is “unacceptable” that the population of Gaza is being denied essential goods and services as well as being “bombed in their homes, shelters, hospitals and places of worship,” the statement said.

The group also condemned the killing of dozens of aid workers.

“More than 100 attacks against health care have been reported,” they said.

“Scores of aid workers have been killed since October 7 including 88 UNRWA colleagues – the highest number of United Nations fatalities ever recorded in a single conflict.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies