UN names outgoing Dutch minister humanitarian coordinator for Gaza

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The United Nations named an outgoing Dutch minister its humanitarian coordinator for Gaza on Tuesday following last week’s watered-down Security Council resolution which called for aid to be delivered to the strip “at scale.”

Sigrid Kaag’s appointment comes as the people of Gaza face a dire humanitarian emergency, with aid slowed to a trickle by Israel’s continued bombardment of the densely populated coastal strip.

She will start work on January 8, the U.N. said in a statement.

Last week’s U.N. Security Council resolution called for the “safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance at scale” — but did not call for an immediate end to fighting.

The bloodiest ever Gaza war erupted when Palestinian militant group Hamas attacked southern Israel on October 7 and killed about 1,140 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.

They took 250 hostages of whom 129 remain inside Gaza.

Israel launched an extensive aerial bombardment and a siege followed by a ground invasion. The campaign has killed 20,915 people, according to Hamas-run Gaza’s health ministry.

“United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres today announced the appointment of Ms Sigrid Kaag of the Netherlands as Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza,” the U.N. said in a statement.

The United States welcomed the appointment and said it looks forward to coordination “on efforts to accelerate and streamline the delivery of life-saving humanitarian relief to Palestinian civilians in Gaza,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.

The Security Council adopted the resolution on Gaza on Friday after days of delays and diplomatic wrangling.

A draft version of the resolution had said that the aid mechanism to accelerate the delivery of relief would be “exclusively” under U.N. control.

But the final version, passed after Washington abstained, now states it would be managed in consultation with “all relevant parties” — meaning Israel would retain operational oversight of aid deliveries.

Kaag has been the Netherlands’ deputy prime minister and finance minister since January 2022. She has previously held a number of senior U.N. jobs including its special coordinator for Lebanon and the Joint Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations Mission in Syria.

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