Statement on food security risks in Gaza

Statement by Representative of Slovenia to the UN Security Council Ambassador Samuel Žbogar at the briefing on the Protection of civilians in armed conflict

Thank you very much Madam President,

I would like to thank the briefers from OCHA, FAO and WFP for their presentations and a sobering alert for this Council.

Madam President, you chose the very good topic for your open debate few weeks ago. It is a tragic coincidence that just a couple of weeks later we are confronted with a live example of food insecurity and famine due to the armed conflict. 

Let me summarize briefings and the white note:

  • Gaza has become uninhabitable.
  • The entire population of Gaza is facing high levels of acute food insecurity, the highest share ever classified worldwide. There is famine looming for people in Gaza.
  • Vulnerable groups are significantly more susceptible to mortality due to a steep rise in malnutrition.

Who are we talking about?

Mohammed, 11 years, became primary food gatherer for his six member family, including his mother with cancer.

Leen, 2 years, diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition and drastic weight loss and muscle atrophy, weighing only half of the normal weight.

Mahmoud, 2 months, died of starvation.

Dear colleagues,

The Security Council has received recently several powerful briefings – a chilling one of the Secretary General of the Medecins Sans Frontiers on the health situation, a duty of care briefing of the USG Michaud on safety or non-safety of the UN personnel in Gaza. Briefings by SRSGs and Special Envoys on Iraq, Syria, Yemen, all of them telling us of spillover effect of regional crisis to their areas of responsibility.

And today’s note on looming famine.

Which one of these briefings is a straw that will break the camel’s back?

The situation has been crystal clear for some time. We should all have been convinced by now that our action is needed indeed was needed long time ago.

Slovenia is deeply disturbed by the distressing evidence outlining the conflict-induced hunger and risk of famine in the white note. And we fully support all the recommendations provided therein.

We repeat once again our call for full respect for international humanitarian law and human rights law. Slovenia reiterates that international humanitarian law prohibits attacks on objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population. It also strictly prohibits starvation as a method of warfare.

We call for a continued, safe, secure and unhindered humanitarian access across the entire Gaza strip, including by opening additional crossing points and simplifying entry procedures for humanitarian aid. We call for restoration of provision of sufficient safe water supply. We regret that WFP was forced to suspend their deliveries in the North of Gaza. We reiterate our position of UNRWA as the lifeline for Palestinian people and the backbone of humanitarian response in Gaza.

The remainder of the white note recommendations are:

  • to restore services for food system and food production,
  • to restore livelihood and food production,
  • to resume entry of essential food, water, electricity, fuel and cooking gas, and
  • to scale up funding for humanitarian assistance.

For all these recommendations to be implemented we need the final one, we need the seventh one – a ceasefire and a peaceful settlement of the conflict. Only a ceasefire, which must be respected by all parties to the conflict, can guarantee the delivery of humanitarian aid without interruption, ensuring adequate, timely assistance.

Madam President,

The white note and the stories of Mohammed, Leen and Mahmoud are the last call to this Council to change the course of action or as one of the briefers put it, it is a matter of urgency.

The main driver of hunger in Gaza is evident and starvation of people in Gaza is preventable.

Only an immediate and permanent ceasefire can avert the risk of famine. It is the only way to ensure full compliance with the Security Council Resolutions 2417 on conflict and hunger.

There are times when we need to make choices and we need to prioritize. Slovenia is choosing a ceasefire to prevent famine in Gaza. A ceasefire to provide relief to Palestinian people and to release hostages.

Madam President,

I listen carefully to our statements in this chamber. With each one of the meetings, we feel responsibility getting heavier on our shoulders. Our statements are increasingly emotional but also clearer and more determined what needs to be done.

There is a draft on the table. Let’s engage seriously to see if we can square the circle, to see if our red lines can be aligned into a document that would silence the skies above Gaza and Israel and bring food to the starving Palestinians.

Thank you.

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