Friday 18th of January 2019

UN Call for Truce

 

"There is something fundamentally wrong with a war where there are more dead children than armed men. That has to stop. There has been too much suffering in Lebanon, in northern Israel and in Gaza -- which is becoming the forgotten conflict in the Middle East."

 From correspondents in United Nations

July 29, 2006
 
The UN has called for a 72-hour truce in the Middle East

UN humanitarian coordinator Jan Egeland has made an urgent appeal for a 72-hour truce between Israel and Hezbollah to allow casualties to be removed and food and medicine to be sent into the war zone.

Mr Egeland said he had proposed the truce to the UN Security Council overnight and would approach Israel and the Lebanese group, Hezbollah, to agree to the humanitarian cessation of hostilities.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has made repeated calls for a permanent cessation of hostilities and moves toward a full ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah. This has so far been rejected.

Mr Egeland said: "I will again go back to the parties, to the Israelis, to the Lebanese, and ask for at least a 72 hour start of this cessation of hostilities so that we can evacuate the wounded, evacuate children, the elderly, the disabled from the crossfire in southern Lebanon."

He said hospitals and clinics would be resupplied and "emergency medical assistance" would be given to the wounded and food delivered to the tens of thousands of displaced.

Mr Egeland has just returned from a mission to Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The conflict, which erupted July 12, has left more than 600 dead in Lebanon alone, according to Mr Egeland, and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes in south Lebanon.

Mr Egeland said that at least one third of the casualties were children and that the overall toll would rise because many bodies were buried under rubble in isolated villages.

"The truce would be a period in which we can get generalised access to the people and that those who want to escape can escape in safety," Mr Egeland said, estimating that many thousands of people still wanted to get out of the conflict zone.

Mr Egeland said he also wanted to set up a communications link to the isolated villages "where we have basically lost contact due to the fighting and due to the destruction of roads and bridges."

The UN coordinator said the humanitarian crisis in the region was "dramatic" though relief efforts are being stepped up despite some reports of humanitarian convoys being attacked.

"There is something fundamentally wrong with a war where there are more dead children than armed men. That has to stop. There has been too much suffering in Lebanon, in northern Israel and in Gaza -- which is becoming the forgotten conflict in the Middle East."

At least 145 Palestinians and one Israeli soldier have died since Israel launched a massive offensive in late June to recover a soldier captured by Gaza militants and halt rocket fire from the coastal strip.

Mr Egeland said UN agencies and other groups had the capability to send 20,000 tonnes of supplies into Lebanon over the next month but that there must be a halt to the fighting.

He said the United Nations had raised $US15 million ($19.5 million) of the $US150 million ($10.5 million) it needs for operations in Lebanon. He added that he had no plans to return to the region straight away.

 Call for conditional 72-hour truce