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InstitutionsUnited NationsWith Gaza on the brink, hostage talks must resume, Security Council hears

With Gaza on the brink, hostage talks must resume, Security Council hears

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Tor Wennesland, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, underscored the need for continuing the vital discussions, which have been supported by Egypt, Qatar and the United States.

If talks do not resume, I fear for the worst for the beleaguered and terrified civilians in Rafah, for the hostages held in unimaginable conditions for more than 225 days, and for an overstretched humanitarian operation that remains on the brink in the Gaza Strip,” he said.

‘Immediate priority, saving lives’

Over 1.2 million Palestinians displaced from elsewhere in Gaza have been sheltering in Rafah, with over 810,000 displaced again since the Israeli military offensive there began on 6 May.

“Saving lives and addressing the critical needs in Rafah and Gaza more broadly must remain our immediate priority,” Mr. Wennesland stressed.

“At the same time, we must not lose sight of the risks that these immediate threats pose to prospects for a resolution to this conflict and for longer term peace and stability in the region.”

Edem Wosornu, Director of Operations at OCHA, briefs the Security Council.

‘Running out of words’

Also briefing ambassadors, Edem Wosornu, Director of Operations at the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), highlighted the dire humanitarian situation in Rafah and the wider Gaza Strip.

To be frank, we are running out of words to describe what is happening in Gaza. We have described it as a catastrophe, a nightmare, as hell on earth. It is all of these, and worse,” she said, adding that the situation deteriorates by the day.

More than 35,000 people have been killed and 79,000 wounded, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health.

‘Committed to stay and deliver’

Ms. Wosornu underscored that the UN and relief partners “are committed to staying and delivering”.

She welcomed the aid shipment via the floating dock set up by the US, adding however, that due to the current closure of the Rafah crossing and limited access via Kerem Shalom and Rafah, humanitarians lack the supplies and fuel “to provide any meaningful level of support”.

The senior OCHA official reiterated that civilians, their houses and the infrastructure they depend on must be protected, and that rapid, unimpeded passage of aid into and within Gaza must be facilitated.

She also highlighted the need for sufficient funding, particularly for the UN agency assisting Palestine refugees (UNRWA) “the central pillar of our aid operation”.

‘Deadly consequences of inaction’

In his briefing, Mr. Wennesland emphasized that a lasting solution in Gaza requires a “fundamentally political” approach.

He highlighted the importance of the new Palestinian Government, which includes eight ministers from Gaza, and its potential to unify Gaza and the West Bank politically, economically, and administratively.

Urging the international community to support the new Government, the senior UN official also underscored the urgency of establishing a viable political framework to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and achieve a two-State solution.

Day after day we are witnessing the deadly consequences of inaction. Now is the time to lay the foundations for a better future for Palestinians, Israelis and the broader region. The UN will continue to support all such efforts,” he concluded.

Special Coordinator Tor Wennesland briefing the Security Council.

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