The UN Secretary-General has invoked Article 99 for the first time since he took the role as he warned that a 'new epidemic' could break out.
On Wednesday, Antonio Guterres invoked the rarely used Article 99 of the UN Charter to urge the Security Council to avert a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.
In a rare move, Guterres wrote to the president of the Security Council to demand action, invoking Article 99 of the UN Charter for the first time since he became UN Secretary-General in 2017.
He then expressed grave concerns over the scale of the loss of human lives in Gaza and Israel in a short period of time.
Antonio Guterres has invoked Article 99
Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General Stephane Dujarric said: "Article 99 states and I quote that 'the Secretary-General may bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter, in his opinion, that may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security'.
"In the letter, which has been shared with you, the Secretary-General urges the members of the Security Council to press to avert a humanitarian catastrophe and he appeals for a humanitarian ceasefire to be declared."
The UN chief wrote in the letter that the international community has a responsibility to use all its influence to prevent further escalation and end this crisis.
He reiterated that it is urgent to spare civilians from greater harm, and a humanitarian cease-fire can restore the means of survival, creating a conducive environment for safe and timely delivery of humanitarian assistance across Gaza.
Smoke billowing during Israeli bombardment on Gaza, amid continuing battles between Israel and the militant group Hamas
In the letter, Guterres said: "More than eight weeks of hostilities in Gaza and Israel have created appalling human suffering, physical destruction and collective trauma across Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
"More than 1,200 people were brutally killed, including 33 children, and thousands were injured in the abhorrent acts of terror by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups on 7 October, 2023, which I have repeatedly condemned.
"Some 250 people were abducted, including 34 children, more than 130 of whom are still captive. They must be immediately and unconditionally released. Accounts of sexual violence during the attacks are appalling.
"Civilians throughout Gaza face grave danger. Since the start of Israel's military operation, more than 15,000 people have reportedly been killed, over 40 per cent of whom were children.
"Thousands of others have been injured. More than half of all homes have been destroyed. Some 80 per cent of the population of 2.2 million has been forcibly displaced, into increasingly smaller areas.
"Nowhere is safe in Gaza. Amid constant bombardment by the Israel Defense Forces, and without shelter or the essentials to survive, I expect public order to completely break down soon due to the desperate conditions, rendering even limited humanitarian assistance impossible.
"An even worse situation could unfold, including epidemic diseases and increased pressure for mass displacement into neighbouring countries."
Reuters reports that at least 16,015 Palestinians have been killed since the October 7 attacks, according to Gaza Health Ministry figures.
While 1,200 people were killed in Hamas' incursion into Israel, according to Israeli tallies.
Aid agencies are warning that a humanitarian disaster in Gaza is worsening by the hour.
They said most of its 2.3 million people are homeless and trapped in a tiny, embattled coastal enclave, with little food, water, medical care, fuel or secure shelter.