HomeUnited NationsGaza: ‘No protection’ for civilians, aid workers, Security Council hears

Gaza: ‘No protection’ for civilians, aid workers, Security Council hears

In Gaza, almost 350,000 children under five are at risk of starvation, she said, warning that “the world is staring down the barrel of a man-made famine.” Hunger in the north is of particular concern.“If they have no protection from the dangers of armed conflict there, they must be allowed to seek it elsewhere, he said, emphasizing that it is vital to recall that any persons displaced from Gaza must be guaranteed the right to voluntarily return, as international law demands.

Killing aid workers

Mr. Rajasingham said more than 32,000 Palestinians have been killed, another 75,000 injured and 1.7 million people – two thirds of the enclave’s population – “forcibly displaced” to Rafah in the south.Washington has urged Israel to conclude a deal without delay to bring the hostages home and for Hamas to accept the deal “on the table”, he said.Intense Israeli bombardment and fighting continues, with Israel still apparently intent on a military operation in Rafah to root out Hamas fighters.“Sadly, we cannot say that this tragic attack was an isolated incident in this conflict,” he said, extending condolences to those killed. “They join more than 220 of our humanitarian colleagues who have been killed, 179 of them UN personnel.”

‘No protection’

Algeria’s Ambassador Amar Benjama said Council members had gathered “once again as the aggression against the innocent Palestinian people reaches its six-month mark in two days; we must put an end to this aberration.”Likewise, the people of Gaza need full compliance with international humanitarian law and with the ICJ’s orders, he said.Council members roundly condemned the recent killings of World Central Kitchen aid workers and called for bigger, swifter aid deliveries. Many called for a ceasefire and for Security Council resolutions to be fully implemented, demanding an end to hostilities to get aid in and hostages out.

World Central Kitchen supplies readied for shipment to Gaza. (file)
Israel’s “information war” has led to the United States and others ending funding to the UN agency, and Israeli authorities have denied UNRWA access to northern Gaza, where needs are great.

Briefing the Council on the current situation on the ground, Ramesh Rajasingham, coordination director with UN humanitarian affairs office, OCHA, and Janti Soeripto of the non-governmental organization (NGO) Save the Children, outlined the latest impact of the devastation that has followed the Hamas-led terror attack on Israel last October, which left more than 1,200 people dead and more than 240 taken hostage.

Hunger and Israel’s crackdown on UNRWA

“If the world continues down this path – of all parties to conflict flagrantly breaching the rule of war and international humanitarian law, of zero accountability, of powerful nations refusing to use the levers of influence at their disposal – then the next set of mass deaths of children in Gaza will not be from bullets and bombs, it will be from starvation and malnutrition,” she said.Israel must announce and implement a series of steps to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering and the safety of aid workers, he said, stating that “US policy with respect to Gaza will be determined by Israel’s immediate action on these steps.”

‘This tragedy cannot be allowed to continue’

As such, the Council should take action that could include sanctions.China’s Ambassador said Council resolution 2728 called for a ceasefire, but every day hundreds of civilians are dying as are aid workers and urged Israel to implement it immediately.“The undeniable lack of protection for aid missions has forced World Central Kitchen and at least one other aid organization – the [non-governmental organization] NGO Anera – to suspend their operations, he said, adding that both organizations provide hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza with food each week. “It is unclear when their work will resume.”“This tragedy cannot be allowed to continue,” he said. “All hostages must be immediately released and treated humanely until they are.”

Thousands of young lives at risk of starvation: Save The Children

“If we are to stave off famine and address the unconscionably catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza, UNRWA – and indeed all impartial humanitarian organisations – must have safe, rapid, unimpeded access to all civilians in need. There is simply no replacement for the services UNRWA provides,” he stressed.Given the allegations of UNRWA ties to Hamas, Washington supports ongoing investigations and noted the agency’s lifesaving work in Gaza amid a looming famine, he said, adding that “onerous restrictions on UNRWA’s work are unacceptable.”Attacks on humanitarian workers are “shocking”, he said, and ending the violence is essential, as is working towards the two-State solution to the conflict.

Man-made famine

“An incident like this should have never happened and should never happen again,” he said, adding that this was not a stand-alone incident, with more than 220 aid workers being killed and more injured during the conflict. “Humanitarian personnel must be protected.”“Humanitarian workers cannot be asked to serve at the peril of their lives,” he said.In addition, “it is clear there is no protection of civilians in Gaza,” he added.Food convoys travelling into northern Gaza have been hit by shelling.

Algeria: ‘We must act now’

Meanwhile, the US continues to make every effort to deliver aid to Gaza’s population, the entirety of which is in need of humanitarian assistance. But, this is not enough, and more aid must enter the enclave.A genuine ceasefire is needed to prevent “an apocalypse in Gaza”, he said, adding that Israel is flagrantly disregarding Security Council resolutions.“In this conflict, 14,000 children have been needlessly and violently killed, thousands more are missing, presumed buried under the rubble. If I were to sit here and read the name and age of every Israeli and Palestinian child who has died on and since October 7, it would take me over 18 hours,” she said.Ms. Soeripto explained that “children are not small adults” and have a special status in conflict and must be protected.Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia noted the UN expert on the Occupied Palestinian Territory had found evidence that genocide is being committed.

Russia: Ceasefire only way to prevent ‘apocalypse’

The crime perpetrated against World Central Kitchen is neither surprising nor an exception, he said, adding that “it is just a new chapter in the book of crimes” committed so far. “The key is we need to support Palestine’s full membership at the UN,” he said.“We call for the full implementation of Security Council resolution 2728 and an immediate and lasting ceasefire. France reaffirms its firm opposition to a ground offensive in Rafah which would result in a humanitarian catastrophe of a new magnitude. Achieving a ceasefire is a top priority for France.“They need compliance with the decisions of this Council, and they most of all need this devastating war to end.”Israel has made this commitment and will have to stick to it, he said.Noting that all Council resolutions are binding, the ambassador said members could take further action to ensure the resolution 2728 is fully implemented.

Food convoys travelling into northern Gaza have been hit by shelling.

In northern Gaza, one in six children in Gaza are severely malnourished, and more than 30 people have died of starvation, requiring immediate action, he said, adding that the primary obstacle is getting aid distributed. A “serious limiting factor” is that the UN agency for Palestinians, UNRWA, which is “the backbone of the humanitarian response”, has not been allowed to operate in the north of Gaza.

China urges support for Palestine’s UN membership

“The international community and the Security Council cannot remain inert as life drains from Gaza. In the name of humanity, we must act now,” he added. US representative John Kelley said despite the Security Council and General Assembly underlining the imperative to protect humanitarian workers, parties in Gaza are tragically not heeding those calls, including the attack on World Central Kitchen workers.The President and Chief Executive Officer of Save The Children US, Janti Soeripto, paid tribute to the more than 200 humanitarians killed in Gaza, nearly all of whom were Palestinians. They include her colleague, Sameh Ewaida, who was killed in an Israeli airstrike on 12 December, alongside his wife and four children.Asking whether Israel’s killing of aid workers including UN staff – and its other “atrocities” – will be investigated, he said the Council was duty-bound to address the situation.The situation continues despite the provisional order of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) requiring Israel to take all necessary and effective measures to ensure, without delay, the unhindered provision at scale of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance and the Security Council’s resolutions demanding a ceasefire and increased aid shipments.

France says Israel must stick to its commitments

© Open ArmsThis pattern of conduct calls into serious question the parties’ compliance with international humanitarian law, he said, emphasizing that allegations of serious violations must be investigated and the suspects prosecuted.Taking note of the measures announced on Friday by the Israeli government to increase humanitarian aid, he called on Israel to implement these announcements without delay.World Central Kitchen supplies readied for shipment to Gaza. (file)

United States: ‘Humanitarian personnel must be protected’

Nicholas de Rivière, the Ambassador of France, condemned the Israeli strike which caused the death of the seven World Central Kitchen staff and called on the Israeli authorities to conduct a thorough investigation and not let those responsible go unpunished.He said Israel’s reaction had been “shameful” and a continuation of its doctrine of occupation and oppression.She told the Council that more children have been killed in the Gaza conflict than have been killed in all armed conflict globally over the past four years.“The humanitarian disaster is beyond imagination,” he said.At the same time, Israel’s siege has left Al-Shifa Hospital “almost entirely destroyed”, and the lack of protection for aid workers is tragically evident, he said, pointing to Israel’s deadly attack killing seven World Central Kitchen workers on Monday.Regarding the ongoing aid crisis, he said symbolic measures, like building a pier to receive goods, are just “humanitarian public relations”, adding that Israel is “hyping up” its allegations against UNRWA without providing evidence.

More to come…


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