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Aid agencies warn of humanitarian crisis in Gaza

Nov. 19, 2012 8:24 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 21, 2012 3:03 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Thirty-eight aid agencies warned Monday of a humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip if violence continues.

"We urgently need to enforce a cease fire. The present conflict threatens to perpetuate and worsen the humanitarian impact on Palestinian civilians in Gaza of over five years of Israeli blockade and the 2008-2009 Israeli military operation 'Cast Lead'," Nishant Pandey, the Oxfam Country Director, said.

The international community must put immediate pressure on the Israeli government to keep crossing to Gaza open to allow supplies of essential humanitarian aid and both sides must uphold their obligations under International Law, the agencies said in a joint statement.

"We are urgently appealing to all sides, as well as to world leaders, to seek a political resolution and avoid the loss of any more human lives," Aleksandar Milutinovic, Mercy Corps Country Director for the West Bank/Gaza Strip said.

"If global leaders do not intervene, Gaza stands on the brink of yet another humanitarian crisis," he added.

The call by 38 aid agencies comes as partners and hospitals in Gaza have announced that they are running out of essential drugs and supplies, with escalating violence making it difficult for local staff to move around Gaza.

The protection of civilians must be prioritized as outlined by international law and should extend to civilian infrastructure too, including homes.

Save the Children said it was deeply worried about the escalation in Gaza.

"Children are already among the dead – and as always, children bear the hardest burden during military conflict. Save the Children urges all parties to end the violence immediately,” said Alex Schein Save the Children Country Director.
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