Gaza 'Probably Worse Even Than We Can See', UN Official

With the Israel-Hamas war now having passed its 100-day mark, FRANCE 24 spoke to Martin Griffiths, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs. "We can see the desolation" of Gaza thanks to the media, Griffiths said. "We can hear the cries of a generation of hatred being created by this terrible, terrible tragedy. But in fact, the figures tell us it's probably worse even than we can see". The UN's top humanitarian official added that "we have some really alarming indicators of the extreme suffering" of Gaza's population, such as "the incredible rapidity of the increase in famine numbers".

Griffiths explained that he "respectfully disagreed" with Israeli President Isaac Herzog's claim that the international community has not been sending the 400 trucks of humanitarian aid to Gaza Strip that Israel is able to screen every day. 

Asked about Israel's reaction to the October 7 Hamas attacks, Griffiths warned that "to try to eradicate – or whatever word you like to use – eliminate, remove, disarm a group like Hamas as a part of the fabric of society in Gaza in the way that it is being proposed, is simply an enormously difficult and unlikely-to-be-achieved task".

"I'd love to know what the plan is for these many, many Gazans," he said. "Where are they supposed to live? And who is developing the plans for governance for Gaza, which are so important?"

Meanwhile in Yemen, the Houthi rebels are targeting commercial ships in the Red Sea in response to the war in Gaza, which has led the US and several allies to strike targets in Yemen. 

For Griffiths, who was once the UN envoy to Yemen, "the first victims" of this escalation are the people of Yemen. He pointed out that the country has seen the world's largest humanitarian operation in terms of the percentage of people needing aid. 

"There is a natural tendency to reach for the gun in response to crisis," he said. "We see this in Yemen."

Over in Sudan, people "are dying in silence, outside our screens", Griffiths warned when asked about the humanitarian situation there. Civil war has raged on for nine months, resulting in 7 million people being displaced.

Sudan is "a huge worry for us", he said, regretting that the situation is "rarely given international attention because of Ukraine, now Gaza and so forth". 

- Author: Marc Perelman, France24


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