New York, 31 October 2023 (TDI): UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell addressed the UN Security Council (UNSC) during a meeting on Monday, drawing attention to the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza.
Russell called on the UNSC to adopt a resolution advocating for an immediate ceasefire while presenting distressing statistics related to the conflict.
During her address, Russell emphasized the devastating impact of the ongoing conflict, particularly on children. She stated, “The true cost of this latest escalation will be measured in children’s lives those lost to the violence and those forever changed by it.”
In stark contrast, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ruled out a ceasefire in Israel’s ongoing conflict with Hamas. He dismissed calls for a truce, saying, “Calls for a ceasefire are calls for Israel to surrender to Hamas, to surrender to terrorism. This will not happen.” Netanyahu reaffirmed Israel’s commitment to continue the battle until victory is achieved.
The recent events have unfolded against a backdrop of violence and instability. On October 7, Hamas fighters attacked southern Israel, leading to the loss of over 1,400 lives, predominantly civilians, and the abduction of over 200 hostages, as reported by Israeli sources.
Russell cited data from the Palestinian health ministry, revealing that more than 8,300 Palestinians have lost their lives in Gaza, including over 3,400 children, with more than 6,300 children suffering injuries.
The alarming statistic that more than 420 children are being killed or injured in Gaza every day, a fact that should deeply concern the international community, she emphasized.
Russell called on the UNSC to take immediate action by adopting a resolution that reinforces the obligations of the involved parties under international law, demands a ceasefire, ensures safe and unimpeded humanitarian access.
Moreover, she called for the immediate and secure release of abducted children, and underscores the need to provide children with the special protection they are entitled to.
As the Israel-Palestine conflict enters its 25th day, the humanitarian crisis continues to worsen, even in the face of aid deliveries to the region, which have been described as “nothing but crumbs” by the chief of the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).
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Russell stressed the urgency of the situation, stating, “All parties must halt violence and prevent grave violations committed against children.” She further called for humanitarian access through all Gaza Strip crossings, ensuring safe and efficient supply routes for the delivery of essential aid, including food, water, medicines, fuel, and electricity.