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‘The magnitude of the catastrophe is unimaginable’: calls for ceasefire in Gaza grow – News


Photos and video: Ángel Lee Treasurer/KT

Published: Saturday, December 2, 2023, 6:00 am

More climate mitigation experts and environmental advocates from Palestine were supposed to attend the ongoing UN Climate Summit in Dubai, but unfortunately did not: some were unreachable due to communication problems; and some are believed to have been killed, a senior official with the state Environmental Quality Authority said.

Speaking to Khaleej Times from the Palestinian pavilion inside the UN-controlled COP28 Blue Zone on Friday, Hadeel Ikhmais, head of the Climate Change section of EQA (the central body for environmental issues in Palestine), said several Climate resilience projects, including UN-funded water treatment plants, were razed following Israel’s “incessant bombing of Gaza since October 7.”

“We were supposed to discuss our sustainable and climate change mitigation projects, but we lost contact with many of our technicians on the ground,” added Ikhmais, who also recounted how he almost flew to Dubai for COP28 after Shots hit his house during an Israeli raid.

Unimaginable catastrophe

One of the most important environmental problems in Palestine is the lack of access to clean water, caused by years of neglect and prolonged conflict that also had detrimental impacts on the economy and agriculture.

“And now the magnitude of the catastrophe is unimaginable. Almost every structure has been razed and everything we have achieved through years of strategic climate action has been destroyed, including internationally funded irrigation projects, water pumps, desalination and sanitation systems, and other GCF-funded projects. Green for Climate). ”Ikhmais added.

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Palestine became a party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2016. Ikhmais said they actively participated in last year’s COP in Egypt, noting that before the conflict escalated on October 7, they were already Preparations for international speakers and donors are underway. , representatives of the Palestinian private sector, civil society and the government will come to Dubai to join the climate summit.

“But we lost contact with many technicians on the ground. Now, the few of us who are here, what are we going to negotiate in the middle of a genocide? Ikhmais said, explaining that there is now a more immediate concern instead of discussing their NDC (Nationally Determined Contribution) or climate action plan to reduce emissions and adapt to climate impacts.

Ikhmais condemned the termination of the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, noting that “things will only get worse in Gaza.”

Civil society calls for a ceasefire

However, at the current COP28 in Dubai, Ikhmais saw a silver lining as he personally witnessed a global network of climate justice and human rights organizations calling for a permanent ceasefire and increased humanitarian aid in Gaza.

“Over the last two days (COP28 opened on Thursday), many of these organizations have come to our pavilion to say they support our call for an immediate and permanent end to the war. We greatly appreciate your show of international solidarity with the Palestinian people,” Ikhmais said.

Drawing global attention to one of the world’s oldest conflicts, which has claimed the lives of more than 15,000 Palestinians in less than two months, added a new dimension to the climate conference.

Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of the COP28 Coalition composed of civil society organizations from 75 countries, previously told Khaleej Times: “As human beings, how can we not speak or stand in solidarity with the besieged people of Palestine? “We believe that a global conference like COP28, where leaders from various countries meet, is one of the best platforms to ensure that the call for a ceasefire and a show of solidarity with the people of Palestine is heard.”

“The fight for climate justice is a fight for human rights and the end of systemic structures of racism, apartheid and colonialism,” stressed the Filipino activist.

Humanity act now

More climate activists attending COP28 have expressed concern about the future of Palestinians as bombings in Gaza resume.

Chennaiah Poguri, spokesperson for the World People’s Caravan, a global campaign led by the South’s rural movement for a radical transformation of food systems, said they are “calling out Israel and the United States not only for their heavy carbon emissions – that are exempt from climate commitments – but also for war crimes against the people of Palestine.”

Poguri has added the United States to the equation, noting that its $4 billion annually in military and defense aid to Israel “pales in comparison to its commitment to the environment.”

“It is absolutely unacceptable that a rich country like the United States allocates $4 billion to the war but pledges only $17 million to the most important and historic loss and damage fund that was approved on day 1 of COP28,” Poguri said. , and added: “The priorities are wrong: there is money for wars but not for the climate

He told Khaleej Times: “This meeting of world leaders at COP 28 must not be lost as an opportunity to demand an immediate end to the genocidal war against Palestine. We cannot stand by and pretend to act for the future of humanity, while dozens of women and children are being murdered as we speak. Climate justice means defending the rights of rural people who grow our food and safeguard the planet. Farming communities in the West Bank are being bombed, their olive trees felled and their lands taken over by Israeli settlers.”

As for Ikhmais, he concluded: “COP28 attendees have the opportunity to help us Palestinians call for an end to hostilities in Gaza. Parties and organizations can urge their respective governments to pressure Israel to establish a halt.” permanent fire. We want to protect not only our environment but, even more, save human lives.


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