UNITED NATIONS - The UN agency assisting Palestinian refugees has issued an emergency appeal for $60 million to respond to the urgent humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza, including tens of thousands who have fled their homes in the wake of the deadly Israeli military offensive.
The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) also noted Tuesday the number of displaced people seeking safety in its facilities exceeds 84,000 and may soon reach 100,000.
In response to the growing needs of civilians affected by the latest conflict, aid agencies have mobilized relief supplies from the International Humanitarian City (IHC), in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
A special airlift in support of displaced families in Gaza began on Sunday from Dubai, where a 747 cargo took off carrying 115 metric tons of aid, containing 45,000 mattresses, 10,000 blankets and 220 hygiene kits. The plane landed at Marka International Airport in Amman earlier today.
“We are very grateful for the immediate reaction and most generous response we received from Dubai and all the IHC members to our call for help. The Dubai airlift is one of the best examples of how effective humanitarians can be when working together,” said UNRWA Commissioner General, Pierre Krähenbühl.
In the coming days, more airlifts are scheduled to arrive in Amman, from where UNRWA will truck the aid into Gaza for distribution. UNRWA plans to expand the scope of the donations to include emergency food parcels as stocks of food and other essential goods dwindle.
The main priority for humanitarian agencies continues to be the provision of food, water, mattresses and hygiene items, as well as fuel for essential water, health and sewage facilities.
The World Food Programme (WFP) continues to provide daily food rations, together with UNRWA, and more than 50,000 people have received emergency assistance in the last 24 hours.
WFP is distributing daily food rations to more than 2,000 hospital patients and staff across the Gaza Strip. Also, the World Health Organization (WHO) is coordinating with the Ministry of Health and other partners on the most urgent health needs.
On the diplomatic front, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is visiting Middle East countries in an effort to broker a ceasefire deal.
AFP adds: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sacrificed any possibility of Turkey playing a mediation role in Gaza in favour of seeking to impress voters ahead of presidential polls with the toughest ever anti-Israeli rhetoric from a Turkish leader.
Before the rise to power of Erdogan's Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) over a decade ago, NATO member Turkey was Israel's key ally in the Islamic world, a policy enthusiastically cheered by the United States.
Erdogan has long presented himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause and leader of the entire Sunni Muslim world.
But his anti-Israel rhetoric has reached new heights in the Gaza conflict, with comments aimed at causing the maximum offence in the Jewish State by comparing its strategy in Gaza to the actions of Nazi Germany.
Erdogan has accused Israel of committing "genocide" in Gaza and has also compared the mentality of some elements in Israeli society to that of Adolf Hitler, comments that enraged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called Wednesday for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas to end violence in Gaza which has left nearly 600 Palestinians dead. "In Israel and in Gaza, the situation is very hard," Fabius said as he arrived for a meeting of European Union foreign ministers.
"Nothing justifies continued attacks and massacres which do nothing but only claim more victims and stoke tensions, hatred," he said. "France will act forcefully to demand an immediate ceasefire," he added.
French President Francois Hollande said on Monday that everything should be down to bring a halt to the fighting, now entering a third week. World powers have urged Hamas to accept an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire and stop raining rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip, demands it has so far resisted.