GENEVA, Feb 26 — United Nations chief Antonio Guterres today deplored how the UN Security Council had failed to respond adequately to the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying the conflicts had “perhaps fatally” undermined its authority.

Speaking at the opening of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Guterres said the UN Security Council often found itself deadlocked and “unable to act on the most significant peace and security issues of our time”.

“The Council’s lack of unity on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and on Israel’s military operations in Gaza following the horrific terror attacks by Hamas on 7 October, has severely - perhaps fatally - undermined its authority,” he said.

“The Council needs serious reform to its composition and working methods.”

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The United States last week again vetoed a draft UN Security Council resolution blocking a demand for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Israel’s offensive against Gaza.

It was the third US veto of a draft resolution since the start of the current fighting on October 7.

An estimated 1.5 million Gazans are crammed in tents and other makeshift shelters in the town of Rafah on the border with Egypt, most of them having fled their homes further north to escape Israel’s offensive.

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Guterres, who described Rafah as the core of the humanitarian aid operation in the Palestinian enclave, said a full-scale Israeli assault there would have devastating consequences.

“An all-out Israeli offensive on the city would not only be terrifying for more than a million Palestinian civilians sheltering there; it would put the final nail in the coffin of our aid programmes.”

The flow of aid entering Gaza from Egypt has dwindled, and a collapse in security has made it increasingly difficult to distribute the food that does get through, according to UN data and officials. — Reuters