UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday warned the situation in Hamas-ruled Gaza is declining rapidly as he repeated desperate appeals for a ceasefire to end the “nightmare” of bloodshed.
“The situation in Gaza is growing more desperate by the hour. I regret that instead of a critically needed humanitarian pause, supported by the international community, Israel has intensified its military operations,” Guterres said on a visit to Nepal’s capital Kathmandu.
“The number of civilians who have been killed and injured is totally unacceptable.”
Israel unleashed its massive retaliation after Hamas gunmen stormed across the border on October 7, killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and seizing 230 hostages, according to Israeli officials.
After weeks of heavy bombardment of Gaza, which the Palestinian health ministry said has claimed over 8,000 lives, the Israeli army said “stage two” of the war started with ground incursions since late Friday.
Panic and fear have surged inside Gaza, where over one million people are displaced, and where communications went dark for days after Israel cut internet lines, although connectivity had gradually returned early Sunday.
“The world is witnessing a humanitarian catastrophe taking place before our eyes,” Guterres added.
“More than two million people, with nowhere safe to go, are being denied the essentials for life –- food, water, shelter and medical care –- while being subjected to relentless bombardment. I urge all those with responsibility to step back from the brink.”
– ‘Teachings of peace’ –
The UN’s top diplomat arrived in Nepal on a four-day visit following talks in Qatar.
“I reiterate my appeal for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages and the delivery of sustained humanitarian relief at a scale that meets the needs of the people of Gaza, he said.
“We must join forces to end this nightmare for the people of Gaza, Israel and all those affected around the world, including here in Nepal.”
Ten Nepali students were killed in Israel during Hamas’s attack on October 7, and one Nepali citizen is missing.
In Nepal, Guterres said he will visit rapidly melting glaciers in the Himalayas to “see for myself the terrible impact of the climate crisis”.
Nepal has lost nearly a third of its ice in the past three decades, he said, with glaciers melting at record rates.
“The impact on communities is devastating,” he said, ahead of a planned visit to the Everest and Annapurna region.
The Earth’s average surface temperature has risen nearly 1.2 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times but high-mountain regions around the world have warmed at twice that pace, climate scientists say.
Guterres said he would also visit Lumbini, Buddha’s birthplace in southern Nepal “to reflect on the Lord Buddha’s teachings of peace and non-violence, which are more relevant than ever in our deeply troubled world”.