UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday that the implementation of Security Council Resolution 2712, which calls for urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors throughout Gaza, is “woefully insufficient.”
“I welcome the adoption of Resolution 2712. But its implementation by the parties matters most,” he told a high-level meeting of the Security Council. “So far it is clear that implementation has been only partial at best, and is woefully insufficient.”
Ultimately, the measure of success will not be the number of trucks dispatched or the tons of supplies delivered — as important as these are. Success will be measured in lives that are saved, suffering that is ended, and hope and dignity that is restored, he said.
“The people of Gaza are in the midst of an epic humanitarian catastrophe before the eyes of the world. We must not look away. Intense negotiations are taking place to prolong the truce, which we strongly welcome. But we believe we need a true humanitarian cease-fire,” said Guterres.
There is also a need to ensure the people of the region finally have a horizon of hope — by moving in a determined and irreversible way toward establishing a two-state solution, on the basis of UN resolutions and international law, with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security, he said.
“Failure will condemn Palestinians, Israelis, the region and the world, to a never-ending cycle of death and destruction,” he warned.
Guterres briefed the council on the implementation of its Resolution 2712, which was adopted two weeks ago.
Civilians, including UN personnel, must be protected. Civilian objects, including hospitals, must be protected. UN facilities must not be hit. International humanitarian law must be respected by all parties to the conflict at all times, he said.
The humanitarian pause currently in effect has enabled the world body to enhance the delivery of aid into and across Gaza. However, the level of aid remains completely inadequate to meet the huge needs of more than 2 million people. Although the total volume of fuel allowed into Gaza has also increased, it remains utterly insufficient to sustain basic operations. Civilians in Gaza need a continuous flow of life-saving humanitarian aid and fuel into and across the area. Safe and unimpeded humanitarian access to all those in need is critical, he said.
Much, much more is required to begin to address human needs in Gaza. Water and electricity services must be fully restored. Food systems have collapsed and hunger is spreading, particularly in the north. Sanitary conditions in shelters are appalling, with few toilets and sewage flooding, posing a serious threat to public health. Children, pregnant women, older people and those with weakened immune systems are at greatest risk, said the UN chief.
“Gaza needs an immediate and sustained increase in humanitarian aid, including food, water, fuel, blankets, medicines and health care supplies. It is important to recognize that the Rafah border crossing does not have enough capacity, especially taking into account the slow pace of security procedures. That is why we have been urging the opening of other crossings, including Kerem Shalom, and the streamlining of inspection mechanisms to allow for the necessary increase of life-saving aid,” he said.
Guterres stressed that humanitarian aid alone will not be sufficient. There is also a need for the private sector to bring in critical basic commodities to replenish completely depleted shops in Gaza. ■