Head of world’s largest humanitarian network urges Gaza ceasefire ‘so I can do my job’

Kate Forbes, president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Cairo, Egypt, February 9, 2024. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
Kate Forbes, president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Cairo, Egypt, February 9, 2024. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) calls for a ceasefire and unimpeded humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip.

The war-torn enclave is suffering from a humanitarian catastrophe nearly seven months after the war was sparked on October 7 by the Hamas terror group’s unprecedented onslaught that killed some 1,200 people in Israel and resulted in the kidnapping of 252 hostages.

“We desperately need a political solution that will allow us to have a ceasefire to get aid in,” IFRC President Kate Forbes tells Reuters in an interview in the Philippine capital Manila.

“We’re ready to make a difference. We have to have access, and to have access there has to [be] a ceasefire,” says Forbes, who in December became the second woman to ever hold the top job at the world’s largest humanitarian network.

The IFRC president is a volunteer position and oversees a network that unites 191 organizations working during and after disasters and wars, such as the Palestine Red Crescent Society, which has ambulance crews in Gaza.

Forbes says she saw the “atrocious” situation in Rafah during a visit in February, months before Israel launched a military assault on the southern Gaza city, which is believed to be Hamas’s last major stronghold but had also been sheltering more than a million Palestinians who fled assaults on other parts of the enclave.

“There was not enough housing. There was no water, there weren’t enough sanitation toilets. We had a hospital with no equipment… and unfortunately what I was afraid of has happened, and that there wasn’t going to be enough food,” Forbes says.

“I plead with the governments on all sides to negotiate a ceasefire so that we can get aid in,” Forbes says. “My job is to ensure that when it happens, we can give the aid that’s necessary. And so they need to do their jobs so I can do my job.”

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