In light of the situation in the Middle East, the UN Security Council met again today for an emergency meeting. Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO, provided the Council with first-hand information on the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.
In accordance with its position, Switzerland condemned Hamas' acts of terrorism in the Council in the strongest terms, called for the unconditional release of all Hamas hostages and recognised Israel's right to ensure its defence and security. Switzerland also reminded the audience that all parties must abide by international humanitarian law.
International humanitarian law regulates the conduct of war and protects the victims of armed conflicts. It is universally applicable. As a country with a long humanitarian tradition and as a depositary state of the Geneva Conventions, the protection of the civilians is a central pillar of Switzerland's foreign policy and a priority for its membership of the UN Security Council. In the Council, Switzerland expressed its deep concern about the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza. It emphasised that the civilian population is in urgent need of aid and protection without water, electricity and essential services. International humanitarian law also requires the protection of medical facilities and humanitarian aid workers. Last Tuesday's incident, in which an ICRC convoy carrying aid supplies to the Al-Quds hospital in Gaza came under fire, highlights the insecure environment in which humanitarian organisations work in Gaza.
In the UN Security Council, Switzerland will continue to actively contribute to the Council taking urgent measures, such as calling for humanitarian pauses or truces, to ensure rapid and unhindered access for humanitarian aid to Gaza. This should enable the ICRC and other humanitarian actors to mitigate the worsening health crisis in Gaza with their work. At yesterday's international humanitarian conference in Paris, Switzerland confirmed that it is earmarking additional funds totalling CHF 90 million for emergency humanitarian aid in the entire region.