UN Security Council debates how to get aid into Gaza as conditions become more dire
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
The question of how to get more aid into Gaza has deadlocked the United Nations Security Council. For three days, proposals have been debated there, and they continue tonight. Now, the nuances are complex. But in general, the U.S. has a veto power and could use it to stop proposals that it and Israel see as allowing Hamas to resupply or rearm. But millions of people in Gaza are in increasingly dire conditions. NPR's Michele Kelemen is covering all of this and joins us now. Hi, Michele.
MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Hi, Ailsa.
CHANG: So what are these proposals that are prompting objections from the U.S. right now?
KELEMEN: Well, the original draft resolution called for a U.N. monitoring mechanism to check trucks going into Gaza. The U.S. and Israel opposed that because right now Israel is doing those inspections. They say they want to make sure that weapons aren't being smuggled in for Hamas. And U.S. officials have made clear that they feel like they have an OK system in place. Here's how National Security Council spokesman John Kirby put it today.
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JOHN KIRBY: It's important to us, of course, that the humanitarian situation in Gaza gets addressed. We are working harder than any other nation to actually address those concerns.
KELEMEN: So the U.S. pushed back on that proposal, which is - seems to be dropped in the latest version. The new draft resolution just calls for a U.N. aid coordinator. It also just calls for urgent steps to allow safe and unhindered humanitarian access rather than calling for a cessation of hostilities now.
CHANG: OK. Well, I know that the U.S. has vetoed previous resolutions. Do you think that will happen again?
KELEMEN: The talks all week have focused on ways to get the U.S. to yes or at least to an abstention. And as I look over the latest draft, that does seem possible. You know, the Security Council did pass one resolution last month. It focused also on the plight of civilians in Gaza, particularly children. It called for urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and aid corridors - that was language that the U.S. could accept at that time. It has vetoed resolutions calling for a cease-fire in this conflict, arguing that Israel has the right to go after Hamas, which carried out that attack on Israel October 7. But, you know, as the humanitarian crisis grows, every time the U.S. vetoes something at the U.N., Washington faces a backlash all around the world. And, Ailsa, there's growing criticism of the Biden administration at home too.
CHANG: Exactly. I mean, conditions are getting worse in Gaza. And now the U.N. is warning of mass hunger there, right? What are they saying about that?
KELEMEN: Well, the U.N. spokesman today painted a very grim picture. Stephane Dujarric talked about how few hospitals are operating in Gaza, how the Israeli military operations have uprooted tens of thousands of Palestinians who really have nowhere safe to go. And here's what he said about the food situation.
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STEPHANE DUJARRIC: According to a food security analysis issued today, more than half a million people are facing catastrophic hunger conditions in Gaza. The World Food Programme warns that these levels of acute food insecurity are unprecedented in recent history and that Gaza risks famine.
KELEMEN: He said, you know, 1 in 4 Gazans have run out of food and are in brink of starvation. So, you know, there's a lot of pressure at the U.N. to do something. What the U.N. wants is a humanitarian cease-fire and more aid routes. The resolution that's being debated calls for unhindered humanitarian access and more aid routes and also more fuel to meet the dramatic needs. But it's definitely been watered down from the original proposals in order to get the U.S. on board.
CHANG: That is NPR's Michele Kelemen. Thank you so much, Michele.
KELEMEN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
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