UN chief calls for 'immediate' Gaza ceasefire, hostage release

UN chief calls for 'immediate' Gaza ceasefire, hostage release

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday urged an immediate halt to the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, the return of hostages and a "surge" in humanitarian aid to the besieged Palestinian territory.

Secretary-General Holds Press Conference Ahead of Closing of UN Civil Society Conference
UN Photo/Duncan Moore

"I repeat my call, the world's call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages and an immediate surge in humanitarian aid," Guterres said in a video address to an international donors' conference in Kuwait.

"But a ceasefire will only be the start. It will be a long road back from the devastation and trauma of this war", he added.

Israeli strikes on Gaza continued on Sunday after it expanded an evacuation order for Rafah despite international outcry over its military incursion into eastern areas of the city, effectively shutting a key aid crossing.

"The war in Gaza is causing horrific human suffering, devastating lives, tearing families apart and rendering huge numbers of people homeless, hungry and traumatised," Guterres said.

His remarks were played at the opening of the conference in Kuwait organised by the International Islamic Charitable Organization (IICO) and the UN's humanitarian coordination organisation OCHA.

On Friday, in Nairobi, the UN head warned Gaza faced an "epic humanitarian disaster" if Israel launched a full-scale ground operation in Rafah.

Gaza's bloodiest-ever war began following Hamas's unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel that resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel launched a retaliatory offensive that has killed more than 34,971 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.

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