Sierra Leone Statement at the Security Council on the Situation In The Middle East-Palestine Question

Mr. President,

I thank you for convening this meeting.

Let me also thank Mr. Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, and Ms. Ilze Brands Kehris, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, for their important briefings.

Mr. President,

When Sierra Leone first addressed the agenda item “The Situation in the Middle East” in the Security Council in May 1970, our representative stated that the “plight of the Palestinian refugees is great. Development and progress are a matter of urgency for both Arabs and Jews. […] Surely it is in the interest of mankind that we should all seek passionately and persistently a way towards peace […] and allow the process of conciliation and reconciliation”. More than half a century later, we are convened in this Chamber to address the threat of forced displacement of Palestinians in Gaza.

In the context of the continuing occupation by Israel of the Palestinian territories, and the escalation following the 7th October 2023 heinous attacks by Hamas. Sierra Leone has and continues to condemn in the strongest terms the heinous attack against Israeli civilians by Hamas, and the taking of hostages. Sierra Leone emphasizes our call for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, noting that the taking of hostages is a serious breach of international law.

We also strongly condemn attacks on civilians, Palestinian civilians and civilian infrastructure, the practice of collective punishment and forced displacement of the Palestinian people. As stated in the Secretary General’s Report, 1.9 million Palestinians are internally displaced and most are sheltering in or around the vicinity of UNRWA installations in Gaza. We reject any attempt to remove Palestinians from the Gaza strip or the West Bank either temporarily or for a long-term period.

We deeply regret the unacceptable high human cost, with report of the killing of about 23,000 Palestinian civilians since the 7th October 2023, with women and children being the most affected. We regret the ultimate cost being paid by UN and other humanitarian workers and journalists.

Sierra Leone calls for accountability for all those responsible for violations of international law, in particular international humanitarian law and those crimes of serious concern to the international community.

Mr. President,

For the past three months, we have witnessed a situation that has become increasingly precarious situation leading to the breakdown of systems, loss of lives, and destruction of civilian infrastructures in the Gaza Strip. A situation that has deepened the complexity of the Middle East-Palestine Question, with ramifications for regional escalation. 

We note with grave concern the severe humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip due to the continuous violence and denial of access to life-saving humanitarian aid at the scale and means necessary.

We call on all parties to comply with this Council’s resolutions 2712(2023) and 2720(2023)) and their obligations under international law, to allow for a rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access to the civilians in need.

Sierra Leone therefore calls for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, which in our view will bring an end to atrocities, reduce regional tensions, and allow for the consolidation of ongoing humanitarian efforts by the United Nations and other international partners, geared towards having an effective humanitarian aid operation in the Gaza Strip.

In closing, Sierra Leone reiterates its call for political and diplomatic efforts to facilitate the “two-state solution” that will ensure Israel and Palestine live side by side in long lasting peace and security.

I thank you.

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