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GAZA WAR

UN chief calls for 'immediate' Gaza cease-fire, hostage release

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres gives a press conference on the sidelines of the 2024 United Nations Civil Society Conference at the UN Headquarters in Nairobi on May 10, 2024. (Credit: Tony Karumba/AFP)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday urged an immediate halt to the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, the return of hostages and a "surge" in humanitarian aid to the besieged Palestinian territory.

"I repeat my call, the world's call for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire, the unconditional release of all hostages and an immediate surge in humanitarian aid," Guterres said in a video address to an international donors' conference in Kuwait.

"But a cease-fire will only be the start. It will be a long road back from the devastation and trauma of this  war," he added.

Israeli strikes on Gaza continued on Sunday after it expanded an evacuation order for Rafah despite international outcry over its military incursion into eastern areas of the city, effectively shutting a key aid crossing.

"The war in Gaza is causing horrific human suffering, devastating lives, tearing families apart and rendering huge numbers of people homeless, hungry and traumatized," Guterres said.

His remarks were played at the opening of the conference in Kuwait organized by the International Islamic Charitable Organization (IICO) and the UN's humanitarian coordination organization, OCHA. 

On Friday, in Nairobi, the UN head warned Gaza faced an "epic humanitarian disaster" if Israel launched a full-scale ground operation in Rafah.

Gaza's bloodiest-ever war began following Hamas's unprecedented Oct. 7 attack on Israel that resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel launched a retaliatory offensive that has killed more than 34,971 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-run territory.


UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday urged an immediate halt to the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, the return of hostages and a "surge" in humanitarian aid to the besieged Palestinian territory.

"I repeat my call, the world's call for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire, the unconditional release of all hostages and an immediate surge in...