Geneva, 16 October 2023 (TDI): The UN aid chief Martin Griffiths announced his intention to travel to the Middle East in order to facilitate negotiations for delivering aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip.
He disclosed that his office was engaged in extensive discussions with Israel, Egypt, and other relevant parties.
Martin Griffiths expressed his plan to personally visit the region to participate in these negotiations and to express solidarity with the dedication of aid workers operating in Gaza and the West Bank.
He anticipated being in Cairo on Tuesday, with plans to travel to other locations in the region during an extended trip.
The fate of aid deliveries and limited evacuations into Gaza, the only entry point not controlled by Israel, remained uncertain. Reports indicated that a temporary truce had been discussed, but Israel and Hamas both denied any formal agreement.
Despite this uncertainty, the United Nations, along with its partners, continued their concerted efforts to provide aid supplies to Gaza, particularly after Israel’s order to evacuate the northern part of the enclave.
Martin Griffiths emphasized the urgency of ensuring aid access to Gaza, given the recent movement of approximately one million people from the north to the south in response to the potential threat of Israeli intervention.
He outlined two primary objectives including ensuring the safe voluntary movement of these displaced individuals and providing essential support to those remaining in Gaza.
Aid access was described as the top priority, with ongoing discussions involving Israeli, Egyptian, and Gazan authorities. Griffiths expressed optimism about making progress on this front.
When questioned about the United Nations’ efforts to secure aid access, Griffiths mentioned that high-level talks were in progress to open the Rafah crossing from Egypt into southern Gaza.
He acknowledged the active involvement of U.S. Secretary of State Blinken in the negotiations and highlighted his upcoming visit to Cairo for discussions with Egyptian leaders.
Griffiths stressed the need for Israeli agreement and underscored the critical role played by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which had been in Gaza since the aftermath of World War II.
UNRWA’s 14,000 staff members, who had not left Gaza and had even lost some colleagues, were highlighted as crucial frontline support for the people of Gaza.