UN Chief uses rare power to warn Security Council about 'humanitarian catastrophe' in Gaza
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres used a rarely exercised power to warn the Security Council on Wednesday of an impending "humanitarian catastrophe" in Gaza and urged its members to demand an immediate humanitarian cease-fire.
His letter to the council's 15 members said Gaza's humanitarian system was at risk of collapse after two months of war that has created "appalling human suffering, physical destruction and collective trauma," and he demanded civilians be spared greater harm.
Guterres invoked Article 99 of the U.N. Charter, which says the secretary-general may inform the council of matters he believes threaten international peace and security. "The international community has a responsibility to use all its influence to prevent further escalation and end this crisis," he said.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said he expects the secretary-general to address the Security Council on Gaza this week and to press for a humanitarian cease-fire.
A short draft resolution circulated to council members late Wednesday by the United Arab Emirates, the Arab representative on the council, would act on Guterres' letter under Article 99. It demands "an immediate humanitarian cease-fire" and expresses "grave concern over the catastrophic situation in the Gaza Strip and the suffering of the Palestinian civilian population."
Earlier Wednesday, the 22-nation Arab Group at the U.N. strongly backed a cease-fire.
Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. ambassador, said it is essential that the U.N.'s most powerful body demand a halt to the conflict.
But the United States, Israel's closest ally, has veto power in the Security Council and has not supported a cease-fire.
On Tuesday, U.S. deputy ambassador Robert Wood told...