Palestinian territory – Euro-Med Monitor expresses deep concern over the silence of the United Nations Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza, Ms. Sigrid Kaag, and her apparent inattention to the catastrophic situation unfolding in the Northern Gaza Strip and Gaza City. 

Despite alarming reports of famine, high acute food insecurity, and escalating malnutrition among children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and other vulnerable populations across the Strip, Ms. Kaag has not exerted sufficient pressure on the international community to bring attention to and address the dire humanitarian crisis.

Though Ms. Kaag has commented publicly on the situation in the southern Gaza Strip and the threat of an imminent Israeli invasion of Rafah, this commentary falls critically short of addressing the particularly concerning crisis in northern Gaza, which portends a humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions.

Warnings from UN agencies yesterday have highlighted the grave threat posed by acute malnutrition, particularly in the Northern Gaza Strip and Gaza City, where access to aid has been deliberately obstructed by Israel for weeks, and often blocked almost entirely.

According to the UN, one in six children under the age of two is acutely malnourished in this region, with some suffering from severe wasting, the most life-threatening form of malnutrition, which puts young children at highest risk of medical complications and death unless they receive urgent treatment. Furthermore, Euro-Med Monitor’s team has documented multiple cases of individuals, including children - even infants - being starved to death.

The deliberate obstruction of aid by Israeli authorities combined with the systematic bombardment, besiegement of the entire population, destruction, and damaging of over 70% of all homes in the Gaza Strip, as well as the targeted attacks on local government officials, have been exacerbating the suffering of civilians and creating what Israeli pundits themselves refer to as a “death zone”.

Ms. Kaag’s inaction on northern Gaza is particularly concerning considering her mandate to “facilitate, accelerate, and expedite assistance to civilians in Gaza”, as mandated by the Security Council. Her most recent general acknowledgment of the dire situation in northern Gaza dates back to last January, nearly a month ago now.

Ms. Kaag’s failure to publicly advocate or exert pressure on Israel to ensure unimpeded access to aid raises serious questions about her commitment to fulfilling her mandate as the UN Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza.

Ms. Kaag has also failed to publicly and effectively address Israeli violations cutting the relief supplies almost entirely in the Northern Gaza Strip and Gaza City, resulting in the emergence of severe pockets of starvation, and famine has reached critical levels.

Euro-Med Monitor also notes that Ms. Kaag’s recent engagement with Israeli authorities, including posing for a smiling picture with the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) head, Major General Ghassan Alian, has drawn further scrutiny. In October, Alian notoriously threatened to make the lives of Gaza’s population a living hell and deny them water, fuel, electricity, and food.

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor calls on The Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza to break her silence on the situation in the Northern Gaza Strip and Gaza City and publicly affirm and condemn Israel’s use of starvation as a weapon of war in the area. It urges her to utilise all available avenues to ensure the immediate and unimpeded delivery of humanitarian assistance to northern Gaza, guaranteeing its timely provision to protect the affected population from famine. 

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor also calls on Ms. Kaag to further enhance collaboration with all parties' efforts to provide immediate humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip’s population and strengthen coordination mechanisms among them. This is vital, especially for Northern Gaza, to ensure a unified and effective response to the spreading famine crisis in that area.

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor also urges Ms. Kaag to collaborate closely with the IPC Global initiative to expedite the delivery of their second report, providing an updated assessment of the food crisis and a renewed analysis of famine indicators in the sector. This is particularly crucial given the rapid deterioration of humanitarian conditions resulting from ongoing military attack and siege.

 The lives and well-being of the whole population of the Gaza Strip hang in the balance, and decisive and urgent action is needed to avert further tragedy in the region.