The current situation in Gaza, as described by Robert Mardini, Director General of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for the Middle East, has escalated into a tragedy of violence, displacement, and forced migration that eclipses previous conflicts. In an interview with Al Sharq Al Awsat, Mardini outlined the stark challenges humanitarian organizations face in delivering aid under such dire conditions.
Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza
Mardini painted a grim picture of life in Gaza, where civilians are living without access to essential services, such as clean drinking water, healthcare facilities, or full access to food. Entire neighborhoods have been razed, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee. The ICRC struggles to reach those most vulnerable, such as premature infants at the Al Nasr Hospital, due to the dangerous situation. Mardini regretted the ICRC's inability to reach these infants in dire need of medical attention.
The Role of International Humanitarian Law
Amid this humanitarian crisis, Mardini emphasized that the death of civilians is the responsibility of the conflict parties under international humanitarian law. He voiced concern over accusations of espionage against the ICRC, stating that such allegations hinder humanitarian work and have very negative consequences. He also expressed gratitude for the cooperation with Saudi Arabia and the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, especially for the assistance provided to Palestinian civilians via the Rafah crossing.
Budget Shortfall and Impact on Aid
Mardini also discussed the impact of the ICRC's budget shortfall on its ability to aid in conflicts. He highlighted that despite the financial constraints, the ICRC continues its efforts in other regions, such as Yemen for prisoner exchanges and in Sudan. However, the persistent budget shortfall poses significant challenges to their operations and ability to provide aid where it is most needed.
As the violence in Gaza continues to escalate, the need for humanitarian intervention and support becomes ever more critical. The international community must heed Mardini's call to uphold international humanitarian law and work together to alleviate the suffering of the people in Gaza.