South of Gaza
Israel have opened a humanitarian corridor to evacuate Palestinians from the north to the south of the Strip. Mahmud HAMS/AFP

At a UN conference in France, Philippe Lazzarini, the Head of the UN Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has today, Thursday 9 November, stressed the "heart-breaking" plight of children in Gaza.

The UN conference brought together dozens of nations, aid agencies and international organisations to discuss the current humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

At the meeting, organisations and leaders proposed a humanitarian maritime corridor, field hospitals and financial assistance.

In a statement, Lazzarini said that the mass displacement of civilians in both the northern and southern regions of the besieged enclave has caused severe overcrowding in shelters.

Lazzarini recognised how Israel's assault on Gaza, in response to Hamas' unprecedented attack on Israeli civilians on 7 October, has left neighbourhoods turned to rubble.

In a video message, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, repeated his commendation of the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) air strikes, together with the "abhorrent acts of terror" committed by Hamas against Israel.

Guterres called for the unconditional release of all hostages that are being held by Hamas in Gaza and underlined his support to Palestinian civilians who have been forced to "face a never-ending humanitarian nightmare".

It has been reported that around 240 Israeli citizens are currently being held by Hamas in its notorious underground tunnel network. There have been no updates as to where the hostages are being held, nor has there been any news regarding their well-being.

Nine-month-old baby Kfir has been named as one of the youngest unaccounted-for children who was seized by Hamas and taken into Gaza.

According to family members, the young child was taken alongside his four-year-old brother Ariel.

The Secretary-General continued to stress that "now is the time for concrete action" to support Gaza's residents who have been under Israeli occupation and governed by Hamas since 2007.

The mass displacement of civilians in both the northern and southern regions of the besieged enclave has caused severe overcrowding in shelters.

"We can help civilians in Gaza see at last, and at the very least, a glimmer of hope – a sign of solidarity – and a signal that the world sees their plight and cares enough to act," Guterres said.

While aid has been entering Gaza through the Rafah crossing, situated on the border that the Strip shares with Egypt, "it's a drop in the ocean", he said.

This week, the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza announced that the number of people who have been killed by Israeli strikes has succeeded 10,000.

Due to almost half, 46 per cent, of Gaza's original population being children, more than 4,400 fatalities have been listed as children.

Guterres concluded his speech by addressing how the international authorities must step up their assistance and protection of the civilians trapped in Gaza.

"That means an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. It means ensuring full respect of international humanitarian law. It means protecting hospitals, UN facilities, shelters, and schools," the Secretary-General declared.

Announcing the huge pledge in funds that the UN has committed to Gaza, Guterres added: "It means unfettered, safe, and sustained access to bring in and distribute supplies at much greater scale, volume, and frequency – including fuel. And it means investing in the $1.2 billion humanitarian appeal that the United Nations has just launched to help the people of Gaza."

French President Emmanuel Macron also attended the UN conference in Paris and noted that protecting Palestinians was "non-negotiable".

In agreement with Labour Leader Keir Starmer, the President stated: "The situation is serious and getting worse each day. We need a humanitarian pause very quickly and [a] push for a ceasefire."

Recognising the dire situation that civilians are forced to witness, Sameh Shoukry, the Foreign Minister for Egypt, questioned the intentions of Israel.

"How many Palestinians must be killed for the war to stop? Is killing 10,000 people in 30 days enough," he asked.