Open Debate of the UNSC on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question
Carolyn Oppong-Ntiri (Mrs)
Deputy Permanent Representative
October 24, 2023
QUARTERLY OPEN DEBATE OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL ON THE SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST, INCLUDING THE PALESTINIAN QUESTION
Thank you, Mr. President,
Let me begin by thanking the Secretary General, Antonio Guterres for his remarks. I am also grateful to Special Coordinator, Mr. Tor Wennesland and Deputy Special Coordinator for OHCA, Ms. Lynn Hastings for their in-depth briefings. The events on the ground are indeed sobering. We take note of the measures being taken to ensure de-escalation of the hostilities and allow for diplomatic and mediation efforts to address the ongoing war as well as the dire humanitarian situation.
We are meeting this morning on a day that is celebrated globally as UN Day, 78 years since the founding of this organization. Ordinarily, it is a day to reflect on the need for the promotion of global unity and the centrality of the UN Charter. But the ongoing hostilities and the ensuing humanitarian crisis in the Gaza strip cast a shadow on this auspicious day. It is also regrettable that the Council has not as yet been successful at reaching consensus on a comprehensive humanitarian response since 7 October. While we welcome the opening of the Rafah crossing border between Egypt and Gaza to allow a convoy of 54 trucks containing much-needed humanitarian aid to enter Gaza, we are aware that a lot more needs to be done to meet the needs of the over- 2 million people in Gaza.
Following the 7 October attacks launched by Hamas in southern Israel and the abduction of Israeli citizens and nationals of other countries, the Government of Ghana condemned the actions of Hamas and called on the group to cease its attacks and release the hostages, without condition. We are very much concerned by the continuing holding of the hostages, four (4) of who have been released over the weekend; the reported deaths of 1400 Israelis and 4300 Palestinians, mostly civilians, children, and the elderly, and the destruction of about 40 percent of housing in Gaza since 7 October 2023. We note that the continued hostilities, which has extended to the West Bank, Syria and Lebanon, portends great danger for the region and for global peace and security.
We are equally concerned about the destruction of public infrastructure and private properties not only in Israel and in Gaza but also in the West Bank, Syria and Lebanon. According to the UN, the relentless bombardment has directly hit UNRWA facilities (schools, hospitals, places of worship and shelters) and displaced about 1.1millon civilians including around 13000 UNRWA staff and staff of other humanitarian agencies. We mourn the loss of innocent lives and wish a speedy recovery to all those injured in the war and hope that all the displaced people in the affected areas will find a safe place to shelter.
While commending the personal effort of the UN Secretary-General, leaders of Egypt, Israel and the United States, their governments and the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator and staff in negotiating the opening of the Rafah border crossing, we appeal to the government of Israel to allow the delivery of more humanitarian aid and urgently needed supplies, especially fuel, which is badly needed to power health centers and water treatment plants, in Gaza. We are grateful to the leaders of Qatar, Egypt, the USA and relevant countries, for the release of the four (4) hostages. And the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) for facilitating the process. We call on Hamas to release all those in their custody without any preconditions.
We also call on all parties to the conflict to recognize their non-negotiable legal obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law to protect the lives of civilians, wherever they are, and at all times, to refrain from attacks on civilian facilities, and infrastructure. We believe that this Council has an obligation to continue consultations in order to reach consensus, in an expedited manner, on a resolution that addresses the immediate crises that is ongoing in the region, including the dire humanitarian situation facing millions.
In concluding, Ghana reaffirms her belief that the path to lasting peace and stability in the Middle East runs through the two-state solution, with Israel and Palestine living side by side within secure and recognized borders, on the basis of the negotiated 1967 borders.
We urge all stakeholders, especially political leaders on both sides, to refrain from inflammatory actions and rhetoric and pursue confidence-building measures and strengthen mutual trust in order to address outstanding issues through direct dialogue.
I thank you.