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News in Brief 12 October 2023

News in Brief 12 October 2023

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

Humanitarians call for urgent aid access to Gaza

Gaza is on the brink of running out of food, water, electricity and critical supplies, UN humanitarians warned on Thursday. 

No aid can come in from the outside for the 2.3 million residents of the sealed-off enclave, and some 220,000 displaced people are sheltering in schools run by the UN agency for Palestine refugees, UNRWA.

Humanitarians are continuing to support Gaza’s population as best they can.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said that together with UNRWA it delivered fresh bread from “bakeries still able to operate” and food to over 175,000 displaced people across 88 shelters on Wednesday, with plans to “reach over 800,000 people across Palestine”.

The agency stressed that its food assistance stocks were depleting fast and called for urgent aid access.

UNRWA further announced on Thursday that 12 of its personnel have been killed since 7 October in the Gaza Strip and reiterated that “UN staff and civilians must be protected at all times.”

Meanwhile, UN-appointed independent rights experts on Thursday added their voice to calls for Hamas to release people taken hostage during its attack on Israel – while also calling for the targeting of civilians in the Palestinian enclave to stop.

The experts called for urgent accountability for the “horrific crimes committed by Hamas”.

The rights experts also condemned Israel’s “indiscriminate” attacks against Palestinian civilians in Gaza and a further tightening of the “unlawful blockade” against the enclave.

“There is no justification for violence that indiscriminately targets innocent civilians, whether by Hamas or Israeli forces. This is absolutely prohibited under international law and amounts to a war crime,” they said. 

Water for food and energy production is running out - WMO

The world’s water resources are under stress at a time of galloping climate change, with potentially disastrous consequences for us all, the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Thursday.

WMO chief Petteri Taalas said that up to half the world has been experiencing increasing droughts and floods.

Melting glaciers, like those in the Swiss Alps which have lost a tenth of their mass in just the past two years, are contributing to flood hazards and threatening long-term water security for millions, he said:

“Unfortunately, we have lost this glacier melting game. Glacier melting and sea level rise may continue for the coming thousands of years because of high concentrations of carbon dioxide. In general, we will have challenges to get water for agriculture, for human beings, industry and also for hydropower production.”

WMO underscored that more than 70 per cent of all water withdrawals are used for food production, so limited water resources have a decisive impact on food security.

Global funding for aid off-track: OCHA

Humanitarians face a funding shortfall of $37 billion to respond to emergencies which affect millions of people in need around the world.

That’s the message from UN humanitarian affairs coordination office (OCHA), which said on Thursday that out of the more than $55 billion required to assist 248 million people this year, donors have provided just under a third as of the end of September; that’s even less than this time last year.

OCHA said the monthly decrease of global humanitarian funding is “of great concern”.

The humanitarian response plans for the Central African Republic and Somalia have seen the sharpest funding shortfalls compared to last year, by as much as 33 per cent less in the case of Somalia.

Funding for eight other humanitarian emergencies in Afghanistan, Chad, Colombia, Ethiopia, Honduras, Mozambique, Syria and Venezuela has dropped by more than 10 per cent.

Dominika Tomaszewska-Mortimer, UN News.

  • Humanitarians call for urgent aid access to Gaza
  • Water for food and energy production is running out, UN weather agency warns
  • Global funding for aid off-track: OCHA
Audio Credit
Dominika Tomaszewska-Mortimer, UN News - Geneva
Audio Duration
Photo Credit
© WFP/Ali Jadallah