UN appoints new aid coordinator for Gaza who is married to Palestinian official

Following the resolution passed by the United Nations Security Council aimed at examining options to increase the amount of humanitarian aid entering the Gaza Strip, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appointed Sigrid Kaag as the UN coordinator for humanitarian aid to Gaza, and she is expected to begin her role on January 8.

Kaag previously served as the Netherlands’ deputy prime minister and is considered an expert on the Middle East. Fluent in Arabic, among five other languages, Kaag has also worked with Queen Rania of Jordan in the past.

Following the appointment to her new position, Guterres stated that Kaag ” brings a wealth of experience in political, humanitarian and development affairs as well as in diplomacy. She will facilitate, coordinate, monitor and verify humanitarian relief consignments to Gaza.” According to Guterres, Kaag will also establish a mechanism to expedite aid shipments “through states which are not party to the conflict.”

Kaag, 61, is married to Anis al-Qaq, a senior Palestinian Authority official who served as deputy prime minister in Yasser Arafat’s government and as the Palestinian Ambassador to Switzerland, and she has a controversial history with Israel. In the past, she clashed with then-Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte over policies she deemed were too friendly toward Israel.

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 משאיות של סיוע הומניטארי לרצועת עזה - מלחמה חרבות ברזל משאיות של סיוע הומניטארי לרצועת עזה - מלחמה חרבות ברזל

Aid trucks entering the Gaza Strip

(Photo: Alexi J. Rosenfeld /Getty Images)

Kaag has previously won praise for her role in the Syrian disarmament of chemical weapons, which the country agreed to dismantle in 2013. For nine months, she led the international inspectors’ mission responsible for the destruction of the chemical materials acknowledged by Damascus while navigating between the Middle East and Europe, and maintaining relations with Moscow, Washington and various military forces.

Diplomats have praised Kaag’s work in Syria, and she has gained respect in Damascus, where some have given her the nickname “Iron Woman.”

“She never stops working and practically never sleeps,” a Syrian official said about her at the time.




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