Monday, July 15, 2024
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UK supports calls for a sustainable ceasefire in Gaza

– Ambassador James Kariuki at the UN General Assembly tenth emergency special session on Gaza

By Ambassador James Kariuki

Let me open by paying tribute to the UN for their vital and lifesaving work in Gaza, and offer sincere condolences for the loss of over 130 UN staff. The scale of civilian Palestinian deaths and the massive displacement in Gaza cannot continue.

The 7th October attacks committed by Hamas, which killed 1,200 innocent civilians, were an abhorrent act of terrorism which should be unequivocally condemned. All hostages need to be released immediately.

We have been clear that Israel must be targeted and precise in its efforts to address the threat posed by Hamas, and must minimise civilian casualties and protect civilian infrastructure in line with international humanitarian law. My prime minister and foreign secretary have repeatedly delivered this message to Israel, and will continue to do so.

As the prime minister has also said, we support calls for a sustainable ceasefire, where hostages are released, more aid can get in and Hamas stops firing rockets into Israel. We have heard clearly from the secretary-general and UNRWA chief that a humanitarian catastrophe of grave proportions is unfolding. We agree urgent action is needed to scale up aid into Gaza. And for our part, we have recently announced a further $38 million of humanitarian assistance, bringing it to a total of $76 million since 7th October.

But more needs to be done to unlock humanitarian access and to deliver aid sustainably without interference.

First, we welcome Israel’s decision to open Kerem Shalom. This is a vital step towards ensuring significantly more aid reaches Gaza. We look forward to its urgent implementation.

We need to continue to increase the amount of humanitarian support to Gaza through as many direct routes as possible. And, access to northern Gaza for humanitarian organisations must also be secured to enable them to deliver assistance to vulnerable Palestinians.

Second, Israel should immediately increase the range of humanitarian items allowed into Gaza. This includes fuel. We need to see supplies of at least 200,000 litres per day, the minimum the UN says it needs to support aid and essential services in Southern Gaza alone. As well as shelter, public health and sanitation items, and items for critical infrastructure.

Third, Israel must rapidly approve visas for staff of UN and humanitarian organisations to manage and facilitate assistance to those in need. We need the UN to be able to do its job.

In closing, we reiterate the need to work towards a long-term political solution to this conflict based on the two-state solution – to deliver statehood for the Palestinians and security for Israel. Peace, justice and security are essential and must be a reality for both Israelis and Palestinians alike.



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