This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
UN chief urges end to ‘senseless’ violence in Israel, Palestine
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called for an end to the “senseless cycle of violence” in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel.
His comments during a special meeting of the Security Council in New York came amid continuing rocket fire from Gaza into Israel and airstrikes on the Palestinian enclave; the most serious escalation between the two sides since 2014.
Describing the hostilities as “utterly appalling”, the Secretary-General warned that hopes of coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis were being pushed even further to the horizon.
The conflict had the potential to unleash an uncontainable security and aid crisis, Mr. Guterres said, and to foster extremism, not only in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel, but in the region as a whole.
Humanitarians step up advocacy for aid deliveries to war-torn Gaza
Staying with Gaza, where efforts have been continuing to secure humanitarian access to the enclave for the UN and its partners, amid growing alarm over the deteriorating situation there.
The Israeli authorities closed the Erez crossing in the north of Gaza and Kerem Shalom in the south a week ago, according to the UN humanitarian wing, OCHA.
In response, UN Humanitarian Coordinator Lynn Hastings appealed on Sunday to “the Israeli authorities and Palestinian armed groups” to allow deliveries of fuel, food, medical supplies and humanitarian workers immediately.
In a related development, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) announced on Monday that it has started to provide emergency support to more than 51,000 people in northern Gaza.
The cash vouchers are for people who now need assistance for the first time and others who were already receiving help, but who had to leave their homes because of the violence.
WFP Representative and Country Director in Palestine, Samer AbdelJaber, said that for people who have lost or fled their homes, one of the most pressing needs at the moment is food. He added that food is available for the time being and many local shops are still open, including those the World Food Programme has already contracted for regular e-voucher support.
The UN agency expressed concern that the closure of crossings into Gaza may soon cause a shortage of basic commodities, pushing up prices which are already increasing because farmers are unable to reach their land.
Abuse is a daily reality for LGBTIQ+ community, warns refugee chief
Now to efforts to tackle discrimination against the LGBTIQ+ community and a reminder from the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, that same-sex relationships are illegal in more than 70 countries.
In a call for an end to the daily abuse and indignity faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people, Filippo Grandi also warned that in six countries, couples of the same gender face the death sentence.
He urged countries “to keep their doors open to LGBTIQ+” people in need of refuge, and added that for many, the discrimination starts at home.
This was the case for the UNHCR’s first trans advocate, Bianka Rodriguez from El Salvador.
She was “held at gunpoint, abused by her own mother and bullied out of school because she was trans”, the UN refugee agency chief explained, on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
She now works to ensure fair laws for people who are harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity in her country – and she will continue “to protect and advocate for LGBTIQ+ forcibly displaced people around the world” – Mr. Grandi said.
Daniel Johnson, UN News