UN chief says growing consensus to tell Israel a ceasefire needed


UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said during a visit to Jordan on Monday that there is growing international consensus to tell Israel that a ceasefire is needed and that an assault on Rafah would cause a humanitarian disaster.

"We see a growing consensus emerging in the international community to tell the Israelis that the ceasefire is needed and I also see a growing consensus, I heard in the US, I heard from the European Union, not to mention of course the Muslim world, to tell clearly to Israelis that any ground invasion of Rafah could mean a humanitarian disaster," he told a press conference.

During a tour of a centre in Jordan's Wihdat camp where the UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA provides health and education services, the top UN official said the agency was a lifeline of hope and dignity for millions of refugees across the region.

"We must strive to keep the one-of-a-kind services that UNRWA provides flowing because that keeps hope flowing. In a darkening world, UNRWA is the one ray of light for millions of people," Guterres said.

Jordan, which lies at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict, hosts 2.4 million Palestinian refugees, the largest number of such refugees among Israel's neighbours. Many of its citizens are of Palestinian origin.

UNRWA has been in crisis since Israel accused a dozen of its staff of involvement in the October 7 Hamas attacks against Israel.

The allegations prompted UNRWA's biggest donor, the United States, and some others to pause funding, putting the agency's future in doubt. However, some other countries have since restored funding

"UNRWA is profoundly contributing in ways that can’t be measured on a graph - advancing social cohesion, promoting stability, building peace. Imagine if all of this was taken away," Guterres said.

The results of an independent internal UN investigation that was launched would help strengthen and improve UNRWA, the top UN official said.

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