The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has called for immediate deescalation of hostilities between the Israeli soldiers and Hamas militants in Gaza Strip in order to put a stop to the growing number of civilian casualties.
The humanitarian organisation in a statement at the weekend, lamented that the hostilities have rendered over two million civilians trapped in densely populated Gaza Strip.
The statement read that: “After weeks of intense fighting, over two million civilians are trapped in the densely populated Gaza Strip with nowhere to flee to for safety. With hostilities continuing unabated, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is urgently appealing for civilian life to be protected and respected on all sides.
“The immediate imperative must be to save lives and preserve humanity, including by ensuring hospitals can operate in safety. Critical services like healthcare, water, and electricity must be immediately restored in Gaza as a lifesaving priority.”
The statement quoted the President of ICRC, Mirjana Spoljaric, to have said:
“I am shocked by the intolerable level of human suffering and urge the parties to the conflict to deescalate now. The tragic loss of so many civilian lives is deplorable. It is unacceptable that civilians have no safe place to go in Gaza amid the massive bombardments, and with a military siege in place there is also no adequate humanitarian response currently possible. This is a catastrophic failing that the world must not tolerate.”
Under international humanitarian law, the parties are obligated to spare civilians from the effects of military operations at all times, to distinguish between civilians and military targets, and to never use human shields to prevent military objectives from being attacked. They must also ensure that the basic needs of the population are met.
Spoljaric said: “In the face of this dramatic armed conflict, what is critically needed now is adherence to international humanitarian law by all parties. An unhindered flow of humanitarian relief and personnel into Gaza is vital, as is the capacity to get basic services on their feet again. Sustained humanitarian access is imperative, and aid workers must be able to operate in a safe environment.”
At present, thousands of families in Gaza are sleeping in makeshift shelters or out in the open with little food and water, while destroyed homes and essential infrastructure are expected to take years to rebuild, and the hospitals still functioning are on the verge of collapse as they run out of supplies to care for the many sick and injured. Most wastewater plants are no longer functioning.
The statement said ICRC teams in Gaza are doing their utmost to help in dangerous and chaotic conditions. Ten ICRC experts including a surgical team and additional medical supplies has arrived in Gaza, but this small dose of relief is not enough given the tragedy unfolding in Gaza.
The statement read that: “We continue our dialogue with the parties to find solutions to the most pressing humanitarian issues, such as protecting civilians and helping the wounded. The ICRC continues to call for the immediate release of all hostages, and we reiterate our offer to facilitate any future hostage release operation. We also ask to visit the hostages, bring them medicines, and to facilitate contact with their families who are worried sick waiting for news.”
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is a neutral, impartial and independent organisation with an exclusively humanitarian mandate that stems from the Geneva Conventions of 1949. It helps people around the world affected by armed conflict and other violence, doing everything it can to protect their lives and dignity and to relieve their suffering, often alongside its Red Cross and Red Crescent partners.
Michael Olugbode in Abuja