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NGOs call for the UN Security Council to urgently convene and pass a Resolution demanding an immediate and sustained ceasefire following yesterday’s UN Security Council meeting on the risk of conflict induced famine in Gaza

The UN Security Council has received a stark warning of the consequences of inaction regarding the crisis in Gaza, as the UN warns at least 576,000 people in the Gaza Strip are facing famine-like conditions as a result of the conflict in its latest report released to the Council.

The Security Council, meeting under the auspices of Resolution 2417, received briefings from UN OCHA, FAO and WFP officials detailing the findings of their report which emphasized how the conduct of war, compounding the effects of Israel’s military blockade prior to October 7, is impeding people’s ability to access food in Gaza. This includes extensive restrictions imposed by Israel on the entry and delivery of essential humanitarian and commercial supplies, denial of security guarantees to reach populations across the Gaza Strip, the continued blockade on water and electricity, and bombardments and violence including targeting of aid convoys, which severely hampers the ability of humanitarians to deliver aid. The UN also emphasized the impact of attacks on infrastructure and objects used to produce food, destruction of agricultural fields and multiple forced displacements which have forced the abandonment of fields and have limited food production.

While the entirety of the population of Gaza lacks sufficient access to food, the situation in the north is increasingly catastrophic, with WFP highlighting that one in six children under two years of age in northern Gaza are now experiencing wasting and 155,000 pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers are lacking access to sufficient, nutrient-rich food. Malnutrition has devastating and intergenerational impacts on vulnerable groups, including children, pregnant and lactating women, elderly, disabled and injured people, who face high risk of mortality related to inadequate nutrition. This has long-term consequences for children’s cognitive and physical development and well-being, affecting their future life chances.

Resolution 2417, unanimously passed in 2018, is designed to trigger action from the Council when there is a risk of conflict-induced famine affecting civilian populations. It reinforces existing international law, under which starvation of the civilian population is a war crime. Yet despite continued warnings from the UN and NGOs of risks, and counter to the Security Council’s own resolutions, we continue to see inaction as a result of the use of the veto by permanent members, with the United States vetoing for the third time a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire earlier this month.

The undersigned NGOs are calling on the UN Security Council to urgently pass a resolution calling for an immediate and sustained ceasefire, which is the only way to curtail famine in Gaza and protect the civilian population, including by preventing a military operation in Rafah which would have catastrophic consequences for civilians and cut off the aid response entirely.

At the same time, steps are needed now to support a massive scale-up in humanitarian assistance to Gaza, which will also be critical in the event of a stop to the fighting. This includes continued support for the vital work that UNRWA and its partners do to help Palestinians survive one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes of our time. UNRWA’s role cannot be replaced. This also includes expediting the authorization and renewal of visas for humanitarian personnel.

The UN Security Council must ensure the implementation of its adopted resolutions on Gaza which call for full, rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access into and throughout the entire Gaza Strip. Further, the UNSC has a vital role in ensuring compliance with the ICJ ruling and upholding the consistent application of international law. This includes using its influence to ensure parties:

  • Uphold their obligations under IHL including on the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure, the prohibition of the use of starvation as a method of warfare and obligations to facilitate humanitarian access.
  • Provide rapid, safe and sustained expansion of humanitarian access to and across the Gaza Strip, through opening of multiple crossing points, including directly into the North of Gaza and security assurances to allow for free and safe movement of medical personnel and humanitarian aid workers into and across the Gaza Strip.
  • Resume commercial access including for food, fuel and cooking gas, and restoration of water and electricity services to Gaza.
  • Increase the import of needed medical supplies, and ensure the protection of hospitals and medical staff.

Signatories:

  1. Action Against Hunger
  2. CARE International
  3. International Rescue Committee
  4. Mercy Corps
  5. Plan International
  6. Save the Children
  7. Oxfam
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