U.N. appoints top Dutch diplomat to supervise Gaza aid, as demanded by Security Council

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UNITED NATIONS, Dec 27 : The United Nations has appointed a senior Dutch politician and seasoned diplomat on Tuesday to oversee crucial aid cargo entering into war-ravaged Gaza, filling a crucial role called for in a Security Council resolution adopted last week. In a statement released on Tuesday, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he had selected Sigrid Kaag, the Dutch finance minister and a deputy prime minister, to be the senior humanitarian and reconstruction coordinator for Gaza.

The Security Council resolution called for the coordinator to be responsible for “consulting all relevant parties” on aid shipments and for “facilitating, coordinating, monitoring and verifying” that aid cargo entering Gaza is humanitarian in nature. In this role she will facilitate, coordinate, monitor and verify humanitarian relief consignments for Gaza,” the U.N. chief said. She will also establish a “mechanism” to accelerate aid into Gaza through countries not involved with the conflict. A veteran U.N. diplomat, Kaag previously headed an international team of weapons experts charged with overseeing the elimination of Syria’s chemical stockpile. In July she announced she would leave government because of the increasingly “toxic” environment for politicians in the Netherlands. “We look forward to coordinating closely with Ms. Kaag and the UN Office for Project Services on efforts to accelerate and streamline the delivery of live-saving humanitarian relief to Palestinian civilians in Gaza,” U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a written statement. Friday’s Security Council resolution stopped short of calling for a ceasefire after a week of vote delays and intense negotiations to avoid a United States veto. It calls for “urgent steps to immediately allow safe, unhindered, and expanded humanitarian access and to create the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities.” Amid global outrage over a rising death toll in 11 weeks of deadly Israeli bombardments of Gaza, the worsening humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian enclave, the U.S. abstained to allow the 15-member council to adopt a resolution drafted by the United Arab Emirates. The Israeli invasion has caused the deaths of more than 20,000 people, most of them women and children; displaced over 1.2 million; and destroyed or damaged about half the buildings in the territory. The U.S. and Israel oppose a ceasefire, claiming it would only benefit Hamas. Washington instead supports pauses in fighting to protect civilians and free hostages taken by Hamas.