Statement by Ambassador James Kariuki at the UN Security Council meeting on Rafah.

Thank you, President. Let me start by thanking Special Coordinator Wennesland and  Ms Wosornu for their briefing today. And I’d like to express our deepest condolences once again for the loss of UN staff who have been killed in this conflict. 

President, I will now make three broad points.

First, it has now been over seven months since the dreadful terror attacks of 7 October. Hostages are still being held and our thoughts are with them and their families who continue to suffer without knowledge of the safety and wellbeing of their loved ones. 

The situation in Gaza is desperate and the toll on civilians continues to grow. Too many Palestinian civilians have been killed and there is an urgent need to get more aid to the people of Gaza to prevent a famine. 

The UK is clear that we would not support an expanded operation in Rafah unless there is a very clear plan for how to protect people and save lives. We have not seen that plan so, in these circumstances, we would not support an expanded operation in Rafah. 

Second, we welcome the news that the Cyprus maritime aid corridor to Gaza is operational. Aid from the UK and other nations is now making its way via that route to the Gazan people. But this is not enough. 

We urge Israel to let humanitarian aid enter Gaza through all crossings, including by reopening Rafah. Israel must fulfil its commitments to increase aid and guarantee deconfliction for aid convoys and other humanitarian work. 

We have seen appalling attacks on aid convoys and UN offices by Israeli extremists, and the tragic deaths of UN and other humanitarian personnel in Gaza. We condemn all attacks on aid workers and support the UN’s call for an independent investigation.

Finally, the fastest way to end the conflict is to secure a deal which gets the hostages out and allows for a pause in the fighting. We must then work to turn that pause into a sustainable, permanent ceasefire.

We must remove Hamas’ capacity to launch attacks at Israel and end their control of Gaza to ensure lasting peace. We must also provide steadfast support to the new Palestinian government as they implement much-needed reforms, and in order to secure a political horizon for the Palestinian people with a credible and irreversible pathway towards a two-state solution.

Published 20 May 2024