Madam President,

Thank you for convening this emergency meeting, and we thank the speakers for their presentations.

A month ago, this Council met at the request of Guyana and Switzerland as informal focal points on the issue of conflict and hunger, warning of the food insecurity in the Gaza Strip. We had heard the United Nations insisting that, without an immediate ceasefire, famine in Gaza was almost inevitable.

Despite the adoption of Resolution 2728, which calls for an immediate ceasefire, the fighting continues and food insecurity has further worsened. The lack of access to food and the inadequacy of the water supply, agriculture and food production are catastrophic for the population of the Gaza Strip.

Switzerland has the utmost respect for all the humanitarian aid workers who are risking their lives to bring relief. Our thoughts today are with the organisations and families of the over two hundred humanitarian workers who have been killed in Gaza since 7 October. Attacks on humanitarian workers are a violation of international humanitarian law and must stop immediately. To this end, concrete deconfliction measures must be put in place.

The Gaza Strip has rapidly become the most dangerous place for humanitarian workers. Widespread insecurity and restrictions on movement are forcing humanitarian organisations to suspend their operations at a time when humanitarian needs are greatest. As a result, the entire aid system is in danger of collapsing, and the continuation of the maritime aid corridor from Cyprus is in particular jeopardy. UNRWA and other humanitarian organisations must have unhindered access to the population in need.

Every day counts: the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) has warned of a risk of famine between now and the end of May 2024. According to UNICEF, Gaza is experiencing the worst level of child malnutrition in the world. Malnutrition in early in life can lead to stunted growth, impaired cognitive development and increased vulnerability to infection and disease. These impacts are irreversible and will affect these children for the rest of their lives.

Madam President,

On 28 March 2024, the International Court of Justice asked Israel to work closely with the UN to ensure the unrestricted and large-scale provision by all interested parties of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian aid. Switzerland recalls that the provisional measures decided by the International Court of Justice on 26 January and 28 March 2024 are binding for the parties. Switzerland therefore expects Israel to comply. Further, we once again call on the parties to comply strictly with international law, in particular international humanitarian law and human rights law.

Switzerland remains very concerned about the impact of the hostilities on the civilian population. A largescale operation in Rafah must not take place, given the catastrophic humanitarian consequences it would have.

In addition, Council Resolutions 2712, 2720 and 2728 must be implemented as a matter of urgency. All hostages still held in Gaza must be released immediately and unconditionally. An immediate ceasefire leading to a lasting and sustainable ceasefire is essential to protect lives and prevent starvation. Without reliable security guarantees, humanitarians cannot fulfil their mandate to save lives and help people in need. We must return to humanity. An immediate ceasefire is the only way to ensure that no more civilian lives are lost.

Thank you