update deskIsrael at War

UN reconstruction coordinator announces she is moving to Gaza

"I believe you should always work from the field," says Sigrid Kaag, plans to move her residence and offices to the war-torn coastal enclave in mid-June.

Then-Dutch Finance Minister Sigrid Kaag speaks ahead of the Eurogroup finance ministers meeting in Brussels, Jan. 17, 2022. Photo by Alexandros Michailidis/Shutterstock.
Then-Dutch Finance Minister Sigrid Kaag speaks ahead of the Eurogroup finance ministers meeting in Brussels, Jan. 17, 2022. Photo by Alexandros Michailidis/Shutterstock.

Sigrid Kaag, the U.N.’s senior humanitarian and reconstruction coordinator for the Gaza Strip, plans to move her residence and offices to the war-torn coastal enclave later this month, the diplomat told the Netherlands’ NOS public broadcaster in an interview from Jordan.

“I believe you should always work from the field. You can’t just come up with good ideas from New York or the region,” Kaag, who previously served as the Dutch deputy prime minister, said on Tuesday.

According to the U.N. official, Gaza has become “the most dangerous place in the world for aid workers” amid the war against Hamas.

It was not immediately clear where Kaag intends to rent an apartment in the Gaza Strip, though the move is slated for mid-June, NOS said. 

According to a poll published by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research on Wednesday, only 12% of Palestinians are satisfied with the U.N.’s role in the conflict. Meanwhile, some two-thirds of the Palestinian public continues to support Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre.

While the U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire and the release of the 120 hostages held by Hamas has the potential to provide a “new perspective” for aid delivery, the current situation in Gaza can be described as “hell on earth,” she said, adding that “people cannot wait.

“It is very tough. Ultimately, I am a visitor. I have the right to leave. But the people who live there, the children, the widows, those who are surviving with the minimum, they have no chance of leaving,” she said.

Regarding talks with the Israeli War Cabinet, Kaag stated: “We discuss the difficult issues and also look at where progress has been made.”

In April, Kaag told the Security Council that her team has had “very constructive cooperation” in dialogue with the Israeli government.

Kaag, who previously served as the Netherlands’ minister for foreign affairs, admitted to parliament in 2020 that her ministry had paid part of the salaries of two terrorists involved in the murder of an Israeli teen.

Before joining the Dutch government in 2017, she served in multiple senior United Nations roles, including at the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). She is married to Anis al-Qaq, a former senior Palestinian Authority official.

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