New York, NY, November 15, 2023 — The UN Security Council has adopted its first resolution (UNSC resolution 2712) on the Gaza crisis with a clear demand for “urgent and extended humanitarian pauses” to the fighting to ease suffering and facilitate humanitarian aid. This is long overdue. This resolution also highlights the responsibilities of all parties under international humanitarian law. This is welcome.
The resolution should be an important first step. It is now incumbent upon all parties to the conflict, and all UN member states to do everything in their power to help turn these words into action.
The suffering in Gaza is a massive humanitarian emergency which the world must address. The entire civilian population requires urgent, life-saving support and the response capacity has been decimated.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has set out the conditions needed for a meaningful humanitarian ceasefire. It must be continuous, cover all of Gaza, be agreed by all parties and monitored by the UN, and come alongside a rapid humanitarian scale up, including fuel, goods and staff via all available crossing points. Israel’s restoration of reliable supplies of fuel, electricity and water is essential.
A humanitarian ceasefire must last long enough to scale up aid, establish safe movement of aid workers, and identify, communicate and protect routes to safety for civilians. It must also enable the safe release of hostages held by Hamas. This is the bare minimum needed. We are clear that achievement of these goals requires adequate time - to be driven by humanitarian needs. The longer a humanitarian ceasefire is delayed, the longer it will need to last to be of help to civilians and to establish basic humanitarian infrastructure.
Under international humanitarian law, parties to the conflict must take all measures possible to ensure the protection of civilians. UNSC resolution 2712 highlights the specific needs of children - and rightly so. Half of Gaza's population are children. Thousands have been killed. We expect many will be unaccompanied and separated and in need of protection services.
A humanitarian ceasefire is one step towards getting civilians urgently needed care and protection. This will allow desperately needed support to reach civilians on the ground. The Security Council’s role in delivering it began but cannot end today. The primary driver of humanitarian need remains the conflict. While that rages, suffering will continue.