Statement by Principals of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC): Civilians in Gaza in extreme peril while the world watches on

In the less than five months that followed the
brutal 7 October attacks and the ensuing escalation, tens of thousands
of Palestinians – mostly women and children – have been killed and
injured in the Gaza Strip. More than three quarters of the population
have been forced from their homes, many multiple times, and face severe
shortages of food, water, sanitation and healthcare – the basic
necessities to survive.

health system continues to be systematically degraded, with
catastrophic consequences. As of 19 February, only 12 out of 36
hospitals with inpatient capacity are still functioning, and only
partially. There have been more than 370 attacks on health care in Gaza
since 7 October.

are rampant. Famine is looming. Water is at a trickle. Basic
infrastructure has been decimated. Food production has come to a
halt. Hospitals have turned into battlefields. One million children face
daily traumas.

the latest destination for well over 1 million displaced, hungry and
traumatized people crammed into a small sliver of land, has become
another battleground in this brutal conflict. Further escalation of
violence in this densely populated area would cause mass casualties. It
could also deal a death blow to a humanitarian response that is already
on its knees.

There is no safe place in Gaza.

workers, themselves displaced and facing shelling, death, movement
restrictions and a breakdown of civil order, continue efforts to deliver
to those in need. But faced with so many obstacles – including safety
and movement restrictions – they can only do so much.

amount of humanitarian response will make up for the months of
deprivation that families in Gaza have endured. This is our effort to
salvage the humanitarian operation so that we can provide, at the very
least, the bare essentials: medicine, drinking water, food, and shelter
as temperatures plummet.

For this, we need:

  1. An immediate ceasefire.
  2. Civilians and the infrastructure they rely on to be protected.
  3. The hostages to be released immediately.
  4. Reliable entry points that would allow us to bring aid in from all possible crossings, including to northern Gaza.
  5. Security
    assurances and unimpeded passage to distribute aid, at scale, across
    Gaza, with no denials, delays and access impediments.
  6. A
    functioning humanitarian notification system that allows all
    humanitarian staff and supplies to move within Gaza and deliver aid
  7. Roads to be passable and neighbourhoods to be cleared of explosive ordnance.
  8. A stable communication network that allows humanitarians to move safely and securely.
  9. UNRWA (1) , the backbone of the humanitarian operations in Gaza, to receive the resources it needs to provide life-saving assistance.
  10. A
    halt to campaigns that seek to discredit the United Nations and
    non-governmental organizations doing their best to save lives.

Humanitarian agencies remain committed, despite the risks. But they cannot be left to pick up the pieces.

We are
calling on Israel to fulfil its legal obligation, under international
humanitarian and human rights law, to provide food and medical supplies
and facilitate aid operations, and on the world’s leaders to prevent an
even worse catastrophe from happening.


  • Mr. Martin Griffiths, Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
  • Ms. Sofia Sprechmann Sineiro, Secretary General, CARE International
  • Dr. Qu Dongyu, Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
  • Ms. Jane Backhurst, Chair, ICVA (Christian Aid)
  • Mr. Jamie Munn, Executive Director, International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA)
  • Mr. Tom Hart, Chief Executive Officer and President, InterAction
  • Ms. Amy E. Pope, Director General, International Organization for Migration (IOM)
  • Ms. Tjada D’Oyen McKenna, Chief Executive Officer, Mercy Corps
  • Mr. Volker Türk, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
  • Ms. Janti Soeripto, President and Chief Executive Officer, Save the Children
  • Ms. Paula Gaviria Betancur, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons (SR on HR of IDPs)
  • Mr. Achim Steiner, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
  • Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
  • Mr. Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
  • Mr. Michal Mlynár, Executive Director a.i., United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat)
  • Ms. Catherine Russell, Executive Director, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
  • Ms. Sima Bahous, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UN Women
  • Ms. Cindy McCain, Executive Director, World Food Programme (WFP)
  • Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO)

1. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) fully supports the statement.

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