Statement by H.E. Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, Permanent Representative of Guyana to the United Nations, at Security Council meeting on ‘The Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question’

Must read

July 2, 2024

Mr. President,

I thank you for organizing this briefing and express appreciation to Ms. Kaag for the updates provided on her work pursuant to the mandate outlined in resolution 2720. Her report allows us one more time to contemplate the depth of suffering which the Palestinian people continue to experience, and the enormous challenges associated with alleviating their suffering, all while hope remains distant.

Mr. President,

Guyana has taken note of the complex operating environment in which humanitarian workers are attempting to bring relief to the ailing Palestinian population, and that aid is not reaching Palestinians at scale. It is especially concerning that humanitarian workers appear to be targeted systematically, presumably as part of a larger strategy to annihilate as many Palestinians as possible through deprivation and other means.

The lack of aid at scale is attributable to, inter alia, the inadequate number of available access points into Gaza and the absence of functioning notification and deconfliction mechanisms for the safety of humanitarian workers operating in Gaza. These factors are compounded by the lack of security guarantees for civilians accessing aid and by the near total breakdown of law and order which is affecting service providers’ ability to deliver, and we have heard this from Ms. Kaag as well.

The result of this consistent onslaught of challenges is multidimensional and I will highlight two of the most concerning aspects.

The latest IPC report on Gaza conveyed that 96 per cent – 96 percent – of the population are facing acute food insecurity at crisis levels or higher, with almost half a million people in catastrophic conditions. Guyana has also taken note that at least 557,000 women in Gaza are facing severe food insecurity with mothers and adult women in a more precarious situation since they often prioritize feeding others and report greater difficultly in accessing food compared to men. It has been observed that when humanitarian access has improved, it has contributed to modest improvements in food security indicators, and improvements in the diets of children.

This reinforces the critical link between sufficient access and improvements in the humanitarian situation.

The collapse of the health system as pointed out by Ms. Kaag, is another appalling consequence of concern. According to the World Health Organization, evacuation orders, deteriorating security conditions, and population displacement are affecting health care provision, due to staff displacement. Fuel shortages and shortages of medicines and health supplies in Gaza Strip hospitals are hindering the delivery of life-saving medical care. Together with the unavailability of water, sanitation and hygiene services, these circumstances have led to, inter alia, a rise in infectious diseases and deaths due to simple injuries and chronic diseases.

Mr. President,

Against this background, Guyana reiterates three important calls.

First, there must be increased humanitarian access into Gaza. The number of crossings into Gaza is too limited, thus hindering the supply of humanitarian aid. In keeping with its international legal obligations, Israel must facilitate this. Guyana recalls the orders issued by the International Court of Justice on 26 January, 28 March and 24 May. We recall in particular that the Court stated in its May order that “unhindered provision at scale by all concerned of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance, necessitates that [Israel] maintain open land crossing points, and in particular the Rafah crossing.” While Guyana supports efforts to scale up humanitarian assistance by all means, we stress that there is no substitute for land crossings. Guyana therefore supports the work of the Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza to this end.

Second, Guyana calls on the parties to ensure the safety of humanitarian personnel operating in Gaza. An unprecedented number of humanitarian workers have been casualties of this war. This is principally due to non-compliance with international humanitarian law which dictates the proper functioning of deconfliction and notification mechanisms to facilitate the safe movement of humanitarian workers. Guyana recalls the recent adoption by this Council of resolution 2730 on the security of humanitarian and UN personnel and calls on the parties to fully comply with the provisions of this resolution.

Third, Guyana demands an immediate ceasefire and an end to this war which has claimed the lives of nearly forty thousand civilians in the Gaza Strip. After nearly nine months of unrelenting war, the devastation is catastrophic and grows worse every day. This must stop and Palestinians must be able to rebuild their lives. This is a critical factor. Further, the international community must facilitate the rebuilding of Gaza. This is a critical factor in advancing the two-state solution. To this end, Guyana recognizes and supports the mandate of Ms. Kaag as outlined in resolution 2720. We stress the importance of cooperation from all parties for the successful implementation of this resolution. We also stress UNRWA’s critical role in any reconstruction effort in Gaza owing to its decades of experience providing services to Palestinians in the territory.

Mr. President, in closing, this Council must never get accustomed or immune to the reports of pain and suffering of the Palestinian people, especially when news cycles move on to different issues and the eyes on the Council gaze elsewhere. Our hunger to act must never diminish. I therefore conclude by reiterating Guyana’s commitment to working with this Council to bring this war to a swift end so that civilians can experience relief and the reconstruction of Gaza can commence in earnest.

I thank you.


More articles

Latest article