Tunisian film star Hend Sabri quits as WFP ambassador over Gaza war

Tunisian film star Hend Sabri has resigned as World Food Program goodwill ambassador in protest at what she called the use of starvation as a weapon of war in Gaza.

Sabri, a leading figure in Arab cinema, said that she had decided with “a heavy heart and deep sadness” to step down after 13 years with the United Nations agency.

In a statement published on social media platform X late Wednesday, the 44-year-old said that she had asked the WFP leadership to push for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the besieged Palestinian territory.

She said that she had hoped the agency “would use its voice forcefully” as it had done in previous crises.

“However, hunger and starvation have been used as weapons of war… against more than two million civilians in Gaza,” Sabri said.

A pause in fighting, due to take effect on Friday, was “too little too late,” she added.

Sabri’s most recent film, “Four Daughters,” was named joint winner of a documentary film prize at this year’s Cannes festival.

Directed by Tunisian filmmaker Kaouther Ben Hania, it explores the true story of how a mother comes to terms with the decision by two of her children to flee to Libya and join the Islamic State group.

Following her resignation, the WFP offered its “heartfelt gratitude” for Sabri’s “unwavering support and dedication” as goodwill ambassador.

Israel tightened its siege of Gaza alongside relentless bombardment after Palestinian militant group Hamas carried out the deadliest attack in the country’s history on October 7.

Israel says that around 1,200 people were killed in the cross-border raids — most of them civilians — and about 240 taken hostage.

The Hamas-run government in Gaza says Israel’s operations have killed more than 14,000 people, also mostly non-combatants, and left much of the territory in ruins.

The planned four-day truce will see hostages freed in exchange for Palestinian prisoners.

The pause is also intended to provide aid to Gaza’s 2.4 million residents struggling to survive with shortages of food, water and fuel.

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