Sierra Leone Statement at the Security Council – The Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question

Madam President, 

Thank you for convening this meeting at the request of Algeria, joined by Guyana and Slovenia, to receive an update on the risk of famine and attacks against humanitarian workers in the Occupied Palestine Territory, in particular the Gaza Strip. 

I thank Mr. Ramesh Rajasingham, Director of Coordination, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, for his briefing; and Ms. Janti Soeripto, President and Chief Executive Officer, Save the Children US, for the valuable information provided. 

Madam President, 

A couple of days ago in this room, we held a briefing during which we were presented with the devastating impact of the Gaza conflict on children. The report from Global Nutrition Cluster referenced during that briefing indicates that approximately 15 percent of children under two years of age in , and that the region is facing “imminent famine”. 

Several other open briefings have been held on the region since the start of the year and in all of these meetings we have been briefed about the unremitting Israeli bombardment of Gaza that has decimated almost all public and private infrastructure and has halted socio-economic activity in the region. 

Markets, private enterprises and financial institutions, the bedrocks of economic activity, are non-functioning in Gaza. Infrastructure for essentials services like water and sanitation, energy, and health, have been decimated. 

The global community is aware of the result of the two-week military operation in the Al-Shifa hospital, which has left most of the hospital structure in ruins. The numbers regarding civilian casualties and internally displaced persons, with women and children being the most affected, are profound and must not be normalized. Despite the volatility in the region and the dangers they face, humanitarian have remained resolute in assisting civilians to access food and life-saving aid needed for their daily survival. 

We recall resolutions 2712, 2720 and 2728 which demand parties to the conflict to comply with their obligations under international law, to protect civilians, and the need to allow for full, safe, and unimpeded humanitarian access to all parts in the Gaza Strip. These resolutions of the Security Council are binding, and we are deeply concerned about the glaring non-compliance by the parties. 

We are also deeply concerned that civilians and humanitarian personnel are still being victims of strikes often leading to their demise. The United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory (Jamie McGoldrick) has recently reported that at this stage in the conflict, at least 196 humanitarian personnel have been killed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. 

As hundreds of humanitarian workers have paid the ultimate price, from the UNWRA Palestinian humanitarian workers to the World Central Kitchen workers. We offer our deepest condolences to the families and organizations. 

Madam President, 

Each day we are reminded of the risk of famine and the steep rise in malnutrition due to intense hostilities and restricted humanitarian access. OCHA has reported that at least 576,000 people in Gaza are “one step away from famine” and are “facing catastrophic levels of deprivation and starvation”. To minimize the impact of the dire humanitarian situation, amidst these projections of food insecurity and famine, malnutrition, and disease, my delegation would like to emphasize the following: 

Firstly, Sierra Leone condemns all attacks against civilians and humanitarian personnel. They must stop, and effectively deconfliction measures to deliver humanitarian aid implemented. 

Secondly, we continue to strongly urge the parties to the conflict to respect the resolutions of this Council by fully implementing resolutions 2712, 2720 and 2728

Thirdly, we reaffirm the relevance and validity of the International Court of Justice provisional measures Order of 26th January 2024 and the request for modification Order made on 28th March 2024, which inter alia, obligates the State of Israel “to ensure, without delay, full co-operation with the United Nations, the unhindered provision at scale by all concerned of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance, including food, water, electricity, fuel, shelter, clothing, hygiene and sanitation requirements(….) throughout Gaza”. 

Fourthly, Sierra Leone emphasizes the importance and imperative for accountability for the grave violations of international law by all responsible parties. As we call for peace, it must be accompanied by accountability to end impunity. 

Sierra Leone reiterates its position on the vital role of UNRWA amidst the myriad of factors impeding their humanitarian response. The need for their continuity cannot be overstated, as it has provided lifesaving humanitarian services to Palestinians across the Middle East region. 

Let me close, Madam President, by echoing the need for intensified political engagements, to persistently pursue peace premised on the ‘two-state solution’. 

I thank you. 

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