Antony Blinken in Middle East as Gaza burns, aid agencies warn of unprecedented crisis

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said they are working with international organisations to ensure civilians get needed supplies. Picture: Dirco

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said they are working with international organisations to ensure civilians get needed supplies. Picture: Dirco

Published Oct 13, 2023


US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the Prime Minister of Qatar, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, are working with international organisations and Israel to ensure the delivery of aid to Palestinians in Gaza.

They said all efforts were being made to ensure that civilians were not severely affected by the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

However, relief agencies have already said the decision by Israel to move 1.1 million people from northern Gaza to the south of the strip would worsen the already dire situation.

The aid agencies said the decision by Israel to cut water, fuel, food, and electricity supplies has made the conditions more difficult in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Blinken was in the Middle East on Friday, where he met with Al Thani after meeting with several leaders in the region.

He said that in his meeting with the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, earlier in the day, they discussed the need to contain the conflict and not allow it to spread to the West Bank.

Blinken also met with King Abdullah of Jordan to discuss the Israel-Palestine conflict.

In his meeting with the Prime Minister of Qatar, Al Thani, Blinken said they want to bring relief to the people of Gaza.

He said he has had discussions with the UN Relief Agency and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

“When it comes to providing for civilians in Gaza, both in ensuring that they can be out of harm's way and that they can have access to the support they need—humanitarian assistance, food, medicine, and water—our focus now is on hoping to create safe zones. We are doing that with international organisations; we are engaged with Israel; and we are working with other countries to that end. That is where our focus is,” said Blinken.

UN Relief Chief Martin Griffiths said they were worried about the escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

This was after Israel ordered that 1.1 million Palestinians must move from the north of Gaza to the south.

Griffiths said it was difficult to imagine how this would happen given the fact that Gaza is densely populated and it is a war zone with Israel launching attacks.

“The noose around the civilian population in Gaza is tightening. How are 1.1 million people supposed to move across a densely populated war zone in less than 24 hours? I shudder to think what the humanitarian consequences of the evacuation order would be,” said Griffiths.

Griffiths said this week he had allocated an additional $9 million for relief efforts in Palestine to alleviate the worsening situation.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) have also expressed concern about the worsening crisis in Gaza.

MSF General Director Meinie Nicolai said the decision by Israel to instruct so many people to leave north of Gaza was outrageous.

She said this was unprecedented, and it was going to be difficult hours and days for the people of Gaza, who are already blockaded and are unable to receive any form of basic supplies.

“The 24-hour notice to the people in northern Gaza to leave their land, homes, and hospitals is outrageous. This represents an attack on medical care and on humanity. We are talking about more than a million human beings. We have consistently seen dehumanising language, and this violence is a manifestation of that. Unprecedented doesn’t even cover the humanitarian impact. Gaza is being flattened, thousands of people are dying. This must stop now,” said Nicolai.

She said the order by Israel to move people would be difficult for everyone in that part of Palestine.

She said they condemn this in the strongest terms possible.

[email protected]