Statement by Ambassador James Kariuki at the UN Security Council Arria Meeting on condemning hostage-taking in Israel.

Thank you, Chair. And I thank the US for convening this meeting which the UK has been proud to co-sponsor. I also want to pay tribute to Professor Halperin-Kaddari, Dr Haran, Ms Samerano and Mr Roman for your courageous and powerful testimony before us today.

After 222 days in captivity, 134 hostages remain in Gaza, including British nationals and others with strong UK links. We are extremely concerned about the reports that many of them are believed to be very ill or deceased. The UK is clear: we call for the immediate, unconditional release of all hostages in Gaza held by Hamas and other groups.

Hostage-taking is unlawful and poses a clear threat to international peace and security.
We unequivocally condemn the taking of hostages by Hamas. And as we have heard today, the implications on the health and psychological well-being of hostages can be catastrophic, as is the impact and lasting trauma on their families and on their communities. We reiterate the need for the ICRC to be granted urgent access to all hostages held by Hamas. And we are also working urgently to advocate against a ground offensive in Rafah which would have devastating consequences for the civilians sheltering there.
Since the beginning of this crisis, the UK has worked with partners seeking to secure a deal which gets the hostages out and allows for a pause in the fighting to ensure the delivery of vital humanitarian, life-saving aid which is urgently needed. We must then work with our international partners to turn that pause into a sustainable, permanent ceasefire. We continue to support the ongoing efforts of Egypt, Qatar, and the US in this regard.

My Prime Minister spoke to the Emir of Qatar on 13 May. They acknowledged the importance of a resumption of negotiations, which followed the Foreign Secretary’s conversation with Foreign Minister Shoukry earlier that week. The United Kingdom has always been clear: a successful negotiation is the best route to get all hostages returned to their families.

The hostage families, including those we’ve heard from today, are being forced to live through unimaginable pain. Both my Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have met on numerous occasions with family members, in both Israel and in the UK, to hear about their ordeal. The UK government is providing ongoing support to those affected and remains committed to doing as much as we can for their loved ones to be returned.