Political division will have dire humanitarian consequences in Gaza

In recent days, the UN International Court of Justice ordered that Israel must prevent possible acts of genocide in the conflict, but the report fell short of ordering a ceasefire – something humanitarians have repeatedly asserted the people of Gaza desperately need if they are to survive.  

This has been followed by the suspension of UNRWA funding from major Western powers following allegations against a handful of UNRWA employees.  

Following these developments Sally Thomas Humanitarian Emergencies Lead at Caritas Australia reflected on the peacekeeping potential of humanitarian aid, stating that “without adequate aid funding the humanitarian crisis will escalate, and more suffering could bring more tension to the Middle East as countries outside of Israel and Gaza react. Conversely, properly administered humanitarian aid that sees innocent civilians safeguarded can play a vital role in de-escalating conflict.” 

“What is missing in global decision making is empathy for a population on its knees. We are already falling short of addressing short-term needs, which include shelter, food, medicine, and clean water, let alone long-term needs. A catastrophe of trauma, already well underway, will increasingly bear out in the months and years to come, alongside the impact of prolonged malnutrition and a lack of education on the development of Palestinian children” she added. 

8 in 10 Palestinians dependent on humanitarian aid before the events of October 7th, with Gaza now suffering the world’s worst hunger crisis, leading Sally Thomas to state that “the legacy of this conflict is less likely to be the semantics and politics, and more likely to be the widespread suffering endured by innocent men, women, and children while the world watched on.  

“In the long term we are likely to remember the widespread reports of children undergoing amputations without anaesthetic. We are likely to remember that 180 babies were being born every day while hospitals were bombed, electricity was cut off and clean water became a precious commodity. We are likely to remember that millions of people were left injured, traumatised and with no place to go.  

“We will remember these things because they are cruel and unusual, even in the context of conflict. The stain left on humanity will be dire and Palestinians will be at an unprecedented level of needs years, if not decades, into the future” Sally Thomas concluded.