Madam President,

I thank the representatives of OCHA, FAO and the WFP for their presentations. Switzerland thanks all the humanitarian actors for their efforts in response to the alarming level of food insecurity and the risk of famine in the Gaza Strip.

Switzerland, as the Council's co-focal point for the issue of conflict and hunger together with Guyana, is grateful for the note and its recommendations. We call on the Security Council and the parties to the conflict to fully assume their responsibilities under international law, as reflected in Resolution 2417. In adopting this resolution, the Council recognized the link between armed conflict, food insecurity and the risk of famine. In doing so, it also reiterated the duty of all parties to conflicts to respect their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law, in particular those that have an impact on food security.

The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is catastrophic. The escalation of hostilities is the main cause for the acute food insecurity. It has aggravated an already worrying situation of structural poverty resulting from the restrictions on movement and humanitarian access imposed as part of the closure of the Gaza Strip for the last 16 years.

We call on all parties to respect international humanitarian law and the international law of human rights, so as not to exacerbate a situation that has already been critical for a long time. The ongoing hostilities have led to massive displacement in a restricted and closed-off area, and are having a major impact on water supplies, agriculture and food production. In consequence, the note warns that one in four people in the Gaza Strip is affected by catastrophic levels of starvation. Children, pregnant and lactating women, persons with disabilities, and the elderly face a particularly high risk of mortality due to inadequate nutrition.

This acute food insecurity is aggravated by the important limitations imposed on the delivery of humanitarian food supplies into and within the Gaza Strip. In its order from January 26th 2024, the International Court of Justice made it clear: Israel must take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance to address the adverse conditions of life faced by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Switzerland reminds Israel that it must comply with the said Court order and take the necessary steps to do so.

In view of this situation and also in line with the recommendations contained in the note, Switzerland would like to highlight the following points:

Firstly, Switzerland calls on all parties to take concrete measures to spare and protect the civilian population and to respect international humanitarian law, including: the prohibition on the use of starvation as a method of warfare against the civilian population; the prohibition on attacking, destroying, removing or rendering useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population; and the obligation to allow and facilitate the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief supplies to civilians in need.

Secondly, all parties must ensure rapid, safe and unimpeded access to all areas, including the northern Gaza Strip, and through all possible crossings and routes. Commercial food supplies must also be guaranteed so that local markets can be re-established. Humanitarian aid alone cannot meet the needs of more than 2 million people. Access to fuel and cash must also be facilitated.

Thirdly, children, women and vulnerable groups must be protected by responding to their specific needs.

Finally, Switzerland calls for good coordination between all actors to ensure that humanitarian workers can carry out their mission in complete safety throughout the country, prioritizing access by land.

Madam President,

Our action is decisive. We, the members of this Council, must use our influence and take urgent action to prevent famine and save lives. Political solutions are urgently needed. There must be an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. We stand ready to work with all members of the Council, and beyond, to find a solution that can end human suffering and revive the prospects for peace.

Thank you.

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