Sigrid Kaag, a Dutch politician and veteran United Nations diplomat, will take charge of the international body’s effort to bring humanitarian relief to war-ravaged Gaza, the UN Secretary General announced Tuesday, filling a position created this month in a breakthrough UN Security Council resolution.
In a post on X, Kaag said she would resign her position as finance minister and deputy prime minister of the Netherlands to take on the role of UN Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza.
“Peace, security, and justice have always been my motivations,” Kaag said in a statement. “I have accepted this special assignment in the hope to contribute to a better future.”
The appointment, which is set to take effect on January 8, comes as conditions in the besieged Palestinian enclave reach “nightmare” levels, as the chief of the World Health Organization put it after a recent visit. Shortages of power and medicine have stripped hospitals of most functioning, and the risk of famine looms over Gaza’s population, humanitarian organizations have said.
Since war began on October 7 following Hamas’ terror attacks, Israel has allowed a limited number of trucks to bring humanitarian aid into Gaza through Egypt’s Rafah crossing. The UN has described this amount as a trickle that fails to come close to meeting the needs of the population of over 2 million.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has also accused Israel’s tactics in Gaza, which include intensive aerial bombardment, of “creating massive obstacles to the distribution of humanitarian aid inside the strip.
Kaag will now be responsible for creating a mechanism to accelerate the movement of aid into Gaza and for “facilitating, coordinating, monitoring, and verifying” the relief effort, according to the UN, including the complex process of ensuring aid trucks are screened before they enter the enclave to ensure they’re not carrying non-humanitarian material.
The Security Council resolution creating the position, which called for immediate, safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance throughout Gaza, passed last week with the abstention of the US after several days of negotiations and delays.
Read more about Kaag.