Mr President,

I would like to thank the Under-Secretary-General and Coordinator for Humanitarian Action and Reconstruction in Gaza, Sigrid Kaag, for her report. My main takeaway is the urgent need to ensure human dignity, but also the very concrete recommendations, ranging from educating children to reconstruction.

Since the adoption of Resolution 2720 last December, you and your team have made every effort to speed up the delivery of aid to the civilian population. And yet we continue to face a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, which we struggle to describe.

Nine months after the acts of terror of 7 October, which Switzerland strongly condemned, we remain deeply concerned about the conflict in the Middle East, and in particular the appalling humanitarian situation in Gaza. We condemn the fact that the hostilities continue to claim many civilian victims, particularly among children and the 1.7 million displaced persons in the Gaza Strip.

The new Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report confirms this already very bleak picture. Around 96% of the population of the Gaza Strip is facing high levels of acute food insecurity. Within this, 15% are at the highest, that is to say catastrophic, level – a propensity that is likely to increase still further. The high risk of famine will persist as long as the conflict continues and humanitarian access is hampered.

Switzerland calls on all parties to comply strictly with their obligations under international law, in particular international humanitarian law and human rights law. International humanitarian law obliges parties to allow and facilitate humanitarian access to civilians in need and it prohibits the use of starvation as a method of warfare. Civilians must have access to goods and services essential to their survival, such as drinking water, food and electricity.

In its orders, the International Court of Justice has confirmed the urgency of delivering humanitarian aid throughout the Gaza Strip. Yet the level of aid remains clearly and vastly insufficient in the face of the immensity of the needs.

As the Special Coordinator pointed out, safe, rapid and unhindered access through all crossing points remains a major challenge. This must change as a matter of urgency. Sufficient assistance must reach those who need it. The parties to the conflict and other stakeholders must act.

We thank Jordan, Egypt and the UN for holding the Conference on Emergency Humanitarian Assistance for Gaza in Amman earlier this month, which sent a strong political signal.

On this occasion, as well as at meetings of this Council, Switzerland also reiterated its urgent call for an immediate ceasefire and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. Switzerland also demands that the parties respect their obligations under international law with regard to the people they are holding. All these people must be able to receive visits from the ICRC and be treated humanely.

Switzerland calls for the full implementation of the relevant resolutions adopted by this Security Council, in particular resolutions 2712, 2720, 2728 and 2735. Furthermore, as reaffirmed in Resolution 2730, presented by Switzerland, all parties to the conflict have an obligation to respect and protect humanitarian personnel, United Nations and associated personnel, as well as their premises and property.

Mr. President,

We all know that increasing humanitarian aid alone cannot provide a lasting solution to the conflict in the Middle East. There must be a cessation of hostilities and a political horizon must be urgently re-established. We thus reaffirm our firm support for the two-state solution. Only two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, of which Gaza is an integral part, living side by side in peace within secure and recognised borders will bring peace, security and dignity to the people of the region.

Thank you.

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