Remarks by Sigrid Kaag, Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza pursuant to Security Council resolution 2720 (2023), at the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

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July 2, 2024

Sigrid Kaag, Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza pursuant to Security Council resolution 2720 (2023), noted that nearly nine months since the Hamas attack, the hostages’ plight continues to torment the Israeli people, while Palestinian civilians in Gaza have been plunged into an abyss of suffering.  Following the Israeli offensive against Rafah since 6 May, over 1 million people have been displaced once again.

Recalling her visits to Gaza, she said she is asked repeatedly:  “Will our suffering ever end?”

Stressing the need for a full and complete ceasefire in Gaza, she also demanded the release of all hostages and the delivery of aid at scale.  The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) must be allowed to deliver on its mandated role.  Noting her meetings with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and key Cabinet members, she said the implementation of Security Council resolution 2720 (2023), which establishes a framework to accelerate the delivery of humanitarian assistance throughout Gaza, “has been fraught with challenges”.

Stressing the importance of political will, she said the mechanism for monitoring and verification of humanitarian assistance, mandated by the resolution, is now capturing humanitarian aid shipments from Jordan, Cyprus, Israel and the West Bank into Gaza.  The activation of the mechanism for supplies from Egypt is expected by mid-July.  Subject to visa approvals, UN monitors are getting ready to deploy to the mechanism’s newly established offices in Gaza, she said, adding that more contributions are urgently needed to address the $2.5 billion flash appeal.  Highlighting the commitments made by the Israeli War Cabinet, related to resolution 2720 (2023), she said her mission has been monitoring their implementation, including the direct entry of humanitarian aid to Gaza from the north via the Zikim and Erez crossings, the use of the port of Ashdod and approval for the resumption of the electricity line to the desalination facility in Khan Younis.

Highlighting last week’s evacuation of 21 Palestinian children with serious illnesses and their accompanying adults from Gaza to Egypt via Kerem Shalom crossing, she said discussions are ongoing to establish a more regular and predictable system of medical evacuations.  Describing this as a priority, she called for the Council’s urgent attention to this.  “Many of you will be familiar with the images of supplies accumulated at Kerem Shalom crossing”, she said, adding that the UN has asked Israel to find solutions to enable the safe delivery of aid.  “We cannot ask Palestinian civilians to put their future on hold”, she said, adding that while politics and conditions on the ground may dictate the pace and nature of recovery and reconstruction efforts, preparations should not wait.  The Palestinian Authority has a critical role to play in Gaza, she said, calling on the international community to support its financial and governance capacities.  The creation of a modern local economy in Gaza should be a priority, because Palestinians should not be expected to depend on humanitarian assistance, she underscored.

“Ambitious reconstruction planning requires ambitious and generous financing,” she said, adding that the international community needs to consider a range of financing options and instruments, from traditional development financing to the establishment of new trust funds to tried-and-tested innovative financing instruments.  “Talking about recovery, reconstruction and financing can be abstract, but if we view it through a human lens, it means dignified shelter while more permanent housing is being built or refurbished, the restoration of basic functioning health, sanitation and water systems and the rehabilitation of schools”, among others, she said.  Recalling meetings with many of the strong women of Gaza, she said their leadership should be integrated into the recovery and reconstruction process.  The estimated 17,000 children orphaned by the war will need support as will the large numbers of people with disabilities, including the vast number of amputees who will require prostheses. While resolution 2720 (2023) has achieved significant progress, there is no substitute for political will and full respect for international humanitarian law, she said, relaying the words of an eight-year-old girl from Gaza: “I live in a camp, I would like to live in a home, like other children.”



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