Sierra Leone Statement at the UN Security Council Briefing on the Situation in the Middle East – Palestine Question


Mr. President, 

Thank you for convening this meeting. 

I thank Mr. Tor Wennesland, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General for his briefing and valuable insights on the protracted conflict in the Occupied Palestine Territory (OTP), and in particular the ongoing hostilities in the Gaza Strip with catastrophic consequences. 

The conflict remains a global concern with a range of security, political, and humanitarian issues that warrant both our immediate attention to secure a permanent ceasefire, as well as long-term attention for post-war reconstruction and a political horizon of a ‘two state solution’.  

We therefore welcome the recent actions by some European Union member States to recognize the State of Palestine as positive actions, which will not only contribute to global efforts towards lasting peace between Israel and Palestine but could also facilitate economic and infrastructural support and development in post-conflict Palestine. 

Mr. President,

 Every day, civilians in the Gaza Strip grapple with the difficulties of living in an extremely unsafe environment with the constant threat of bomb attacks, indiscriminate bombardment and lack of the most basic essential services needed for their survival, including food, water and medicine.  

The intense military operation in Rafah since the start of May has exacerbated the situation, as Rafah city, the “last refuge” in the Gaza Strip for more than 1.4 million displaced Palestinians, has turned into an active war zone, with daily reports of increased civilian casualties and breaches of international law principles to protect civilians. Incidents around the Egypt-Rafah border, particularly reports of an exchange of fire between Israeli and Egyptian soldiers which led to the death of at least an Egyptian Soldier are also very concerning, as are the escalating cross-border missile launches and retaliatory attacks between Hezbollah and IDF. 

Additionally, attacks launched by Hamas from the OPT on the Israeli city of Tel Aviv is another escalatory action in this conflict which will only lead to a vicious cycle of violence.

Sierra Leone notes with deep concern the events in recent days, in particular, the attack on a camp for displaced people in Rafah that killed at least 45 civilians, many of whom were women and children. Sierra Leone condemns all attacks against civilians and protected persons in the ongoing conflict, recalling the clear obligations under international law, in particular international humanitarian law, and we reiterate our call for parties to the conflict to respect and protect civilians and civilian objects at all times, in accordance with their said obligations under international law.

Sierra Leone is further disturbed by the appalling humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, characterized by closures or very limited access through designated crossing points, that prevent the supply   of humanitarian assistance to a starving population.

Furthermore, we are also deeply disturbed by reports of actions targeting UNWRA aimed at limiting its activities and mandate delivery. We reiterate our support for UNWRA and our stance that UNWRA is a lifeline for the Palestinian people, not only in Gaza and the West Bank, but also in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

The conflict in the Gaza Strip has long-standing, complex roots, but it is not an intractable situation. In this regard, Sierra reiterates the following points:

Firstly, we call on this Council to remain united in its call for a lasting ceasefire, peaceful resolution to the conflict, and resolute in its support of all meaningful efforts to reach a political horizon of the “two-state solution”.  We must utilize all appropriate political and diplomatic tools at our disposal to compel the parties to the conflict to comply with international law and the resolutions adopted by this Council including resolutions 2712, 2720 and 2728. 

Secondly, Sierra Leone notes with keen interest actions initiated by the international judicial systems to ensure accountability and combat impunity in the Gaza conflict. We therefore call on parties to the conflict to adhere to their obligations as outlined in the ICJ Provisional Orders of 26th January 2024, 28th March 2024 and 24th May 2024, with the latter among other things, requesting the State of Israel to “Immediately halt its military offensive, and any other action in the Rafah Governorate…” and “Maintain open the Rafah crossing for unhindered provision at scale of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance…”. 

Thirdly, we reiterate the need and legal obligation as per the ICJ orders for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages held by Hamas since the 7th October 2023.

Fourthly, we call on parties to the conflict to ensure the protection and safety of humanitarian agencies and their workers providing life-saving services in the Gaza Strip and OTP. We denounce direct attacks on them and acts of or misinformation or disinformation campaigns that seek to discredit them and their operations.

In closing, my delegation looks forward to the resumption of negotiations between Israel and Hamas, facilitated by Egypt Qatar and the United States. We acknowledge our unwavering commitment to the peace process. 

Sierra Leone stands ready to engage on any UNSC product and or action that will assist in significantly easing the suffering of the Palestinian people and facilitate the achievement of lasting peace between Israel and Palestine.

I thank you.

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