Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat :

Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : ICRC to Aswat Asharq Al-Awsatt: Israel, Hamas Do Not Allow Us to Visit Detainees

Girls carrying food containers in a temporary camp in Rafah, near the border with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip. (AFP)
Girls carrying food containers in a temporary camp in Rafah, near the border with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip. (AFP)
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ICRC to Aswat Asharq Al-Awsatt: Israel, Hamas Do Not Allow Us to Visit Detainees

Girls carrying food containers in a temporary camp in Rafah, near the border with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip. (AFP)
Girls carrying food containers in a temporary camp in Rafah, near the border with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip. (AFP)

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that since Oct. 7, 2023, the Israeli authorities have suspended visits to Palestinian detainees in its prisons, while Hamas movement has not allowed visits to the Israeli hostages.
In an interview with Aswat Asharq Al-Awsatt, Fabrizio Carboni, Regional Director of the Red Cross for the Middle and Near East, described the situation in Gaza, about 4 months after the start of the war, as “catastrophic,” in light of the collapse of the health system and the entire power network.
Carboni stressed that the psychological impact of the war on the residents of Gaza, especially children, was one of the cruelest dimensions of this conflict, noting that the population will have to carry it for years.
He praised what he described as “distinguished cooperation” between the ICRC and Saudi Arabia, noting that the financial and political support provided by the Kingdom allowed the Red Cross to work in complex areas around the world.
The Regional Director of the ICRC emphasized that the West Bank and Gaza are occupied territories, and that the Palestinians who live there are protected under the Geneva Conventions, and therefore are entitled to enjoy basic rights and guarantees without discrimination.
In the interview, Carboni also spoke about the challenges facing the Red Cross teams in Gaza, the committee’s position on the case filed by South Africa against Israel before the International Court of Justice, and other files.
The cruelty of the conflict and its psychological dimensions
“The situation in Gaza, after 4 months of intense violence, siege, and limited access to humanitarian aid, is catastrophic, because people cannot receive basic services,” he said.
“Many people are injured, other than those who were killed. Furthermore, something that is difficult to capture is the psychological impact of this violence - the fear, anxiety and sadness of having to live in your own home seeing friends and family members killed and injured (...) Imagine living in constant fear of being at the wrong time or place and being harmed, injured or killed”, he added.
Carboni expressed his belief that the most devastating aspect of the psychological impact of war is people’s fear for their children.
“This is perhaps one of the cruelest dimensions of this conflict. This will have an impact on generations of Palestinian people who have lived through this catastrophic moment,” he stated.
Collapse of the health system and the entire power network
In addition to the destruction of infrastructure, the lack of security and safety prevented people from accessing hospitals, schools and protected shelters, according to the ICRC official.
Carboni spoke of severe damage to the infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, and said: “It is not only the health system that is collapsing, but rather the entire energy system, the complete energy supply, and the provision of water to the people. All this was damaged. The situation is truly alarming and intolerable, and when we look at the state of the infrastructure, it is difficult to imagine how this conflict with such a level of intensity and violence can continue without taking more seriously the situation of the civilian population in Gaza. Therefore, I call on all parties to respect the population and spare them this unacceptable level of violence.”
Carboni praised the courage and resilience of health workers in Gaza, who “have been working for 4 months in a very difficult situation, doing real work and paying a heavy price for it.”
Distinguished partnership with Saudi Arabia
The Regional Director of the Red Cross in the Near and Middle East explained that the International Committee has a distinguished partnership with Saudi Arabia, noting that the King Salman Relief Center funded part of their work in Gaza, in addition to partnerships in Sudan and many other regions.
Carboni highlighted cooperation with the Kingdom to develop a common understanding of how to respond to humanitarian situations around the world.
He said: “We have had a distinguished dialogue with Saudi Arabia over the past years, and we have received very tangible political support in conflicts and humanitarian issues, which has allowed us to work in complex areas.”
He continued: “When we face difficulties in some countries, we know that we can always involve Saudi Arabia and all its representatives in Riyadh, Geneva, and New York to deal with these issues. We have an important financial partnership, but also the political partnership is more crucial from my point of view.”
“Our employees are victims of the conflict in Gaza”
Speaking about the challenges facing the Red Cross teams in Gaza, Carboni stressed that Gaza City is a large battlefield that cannot be easily covered.
“Our employees are stuck in a place they should not be due to violence, which threatens their safety and security,” he said.
The second challenge in Gaza, according to Carboni, is that employees are “victims of the conflict, displaced and exposed to bombing and lack of fuel, water and food.”
He added: “Gaza is a very difficult environment. Even if we do our best (...), it will never be enough because of the scale of the humanitarian crisis.”
War crimes
In response to a question about whether the killings of civilians in Gaza constitute Israeli war crimes, the ICRC Regional Director said that the killing, injury and displacement of civilians, and all intentional and active violence that targets neutral citizens, whether in Gaza or Israel, were unacceptable.
“We expect all necessary precautions to be taken to avoid civilian casualties,” he underlined.
On South Africa’s case before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding Israeli crimes in Gaza, Carboni reiterated that the ICRC was not entitled to comment on such questions.
“We focus on the violation of international law and the consequences for people, and we raise these topics in our confidential dialogue with the parties to the conflict. We reiterate that the West Bank and Gaza are located within the occupied territories. Palestinians living in these areas are protected under the Geneva Conventions and are therefore entitled to enjoy basic rights and guarantees without discrimination,” he told Aswat Asharq Al-Awsatt.
Hostage exchange efforts
Regarding the latest efforts to achieve a prisoner swap deal between Hamas and Israel, Carboni said: “We are not part of any dialogue between the two parties to reach an agreement and allow the release of hostages and detainees. These are political negotiations in which we do not participate. We engage in the humanitarian dimension after the agreement.”
Preventing the Red Cross from visiting detainees
The ICRC regional director spoke about the committee’s long history of visiting Palestinians detained by Israel, and said: “We also facilitate family visits, and if we take the first six months of 2023, more than 29,000 visits from family members were enabled through the Red Cross.”
But he added: “Since Oct. 7, the Israeli authorities have taken a decision to suspend visits through the International Red Cross. We regret that and we continue to talk to those concerned to resume these visits. It is also regretful that Hamas did not allow us to visit its hostages, and in both cases..., this is completely unacceptable. We hope that we will be able to reach those people as soon as possible.”

 

 

 

 



Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Siddiq al-Mahdi: Sudanese Public Unites on Need to End War

Secretary-General of the Sudanese Coordination of Civil Democratic Forces (Taqaddum), Siddiq al-Mahdi (Aswat Asharq Al-Awsatt)
Secretary-General of the Sudanese Coordination of Civil Democratic Forces (Taqaddum), Siddiq al-Mahdi (Aswat Asharq Al-Awsatt)
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Siddiq al-Mahdi: Sudanese Public Unites on Need to End War

Secretary-General of the Sudanese Coordination of Civil Democratic Forces (Taqaddum), Siddiq al-Mahdi (Aswat Asharq Al-Awsatt)
Secretary-General of the Sudanese Coordination of Civil Democratic Forces (Taqaddum), Siddiq al-Mahdi (Aswat Asharq Al-Awsatt)

Siddiq al-Mahdi, Secretary-General of the Sudanese Coordination of Civil Democratic Forces (Taqaddum), stressed the urgent need for humanitarian aid to Sudanese citizens suffering from the ongoing conflict.

In an interview with Aswat Asharq Al-Awsatt in Addis Ababa, al-Mahdi criticized the National Congress Party for manipulating its alliance with the military to advance its political goals.

Al-Mahdi said he would only engage in the political process if the party ends its connection with the military and security forces.

He highlighted a growing recognition of the need to end the war, noting a shift away from military solutions as a positive sign of Sudanese public opinion converging on the need for peace.

The Taqaddum official said this change has reduced support for the war and increased regional and international calls for its end.

Al-Mahdi warned that the war has caused a severe humanitarian crisis and poses threats to the region, neighboring countries, the Horn of Africa, and Red Sea security.

“The need to stop the war is now urgent, and we must act on this,” he said.

He praised international efforts, including the Paris and Cairo conferences and the UN's attempts to bring the warring sides together in Geneva for aid and protection.

Al-Mahdi also revealed that his coalition had proposed a plan to the military and Rapid Support Forces, focusing on humanitarian aid, political arrangements to end the war, and a transition to civilian democracy.

He stressed that the humanitarian situation cannot wait for the war to end.

“Providing aid and protecting citizens are urgent priorities. We need to act now to deliver aid, even before the war ends,” he said.

He noted that the best approach involves coordinating initiatives from various platforms, including Jeddah, IGAD, and its key member states Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda, as well as Bahrain, the UAE, Egypt, the African Union, and the United Nations.

Al-Mahdi emphasized that all these entities are working on humanitarian and peace efforts.

He stated that any alignment among mediators, conflict parties, and civil components is viewed by Taqaddum as a comprehensive process for achieving peace.