UN Security Council envoys visit Gaza border to demand ceasefire

British, Chinese and Russian officials were among those who made the trip to Rafah crossing, organised by the UAE

UN Security Council envoys visit Gaza border to demand ceasefire

UN Security Council envoys visit Gaza border to demand ceasefire
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Representatives of the UN Security Council flew to the Rafah border on Monday to call for a ceasefire.

A UAE-chartered flight carrying diplomats, health workers and journalists landed at Al Arish Airport.

The trip aims to highlight the humanitarian suffering of the Palestinian people and the need for an immediate ceasefire.

Britain, China and Russia were the three permanent members of the Security Council on the flight. France and the US declined to join. Of the non-permanent members, only Gabon was missing. The National was on board the flight.

We have clearly seen in UN reporting that the aid reaching Gazans is insufficient
Lana Nusseibeh, UAE Permanent Representative to the UN

Lana Nusseibeh, UAE Permanent Representative to the UN, was the driving force behind organising the trip. Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner general of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), was also on the flight, along with several UN personnel.

Ms Nusseibeh told The National: “We are here today to examine the humanitarian operations for the delivery of aid to Gaza through the Rafah crossing. It is important for council members who have travelled here to see firsthand the challenges faced by humanitarian actors on the ground.

“We have clearly seen in UN reporting that the aid reaching Gazans is insufficient, due to the current inspections and verification processes and because no other crossings and entry points have been opened to scale up aid delivery. We thank Egypt and the UN, as well as the Palestinian Authority for their tireless efforts in that regard.”

Ms Nusseibeh added: “I want to especially recognise the extraordinary work of the staff of the United Nations, who have facilitated the delivery of life-saving assistance to Palestinians in desperate need. We join them in mourning the loss of 103 UN colleagues in Gaza.

“The recent pause made the need for an enhanced aid delivery mechanism to allow full, rapid, safe, and unhindered access clear. Even with the temporary halt in fighting, the amount of aid that was able to enter Gaza fell far short of the scale required to meet the needs of more than 2 million people in Gaza.”

In addition to Mr Lazzarini, the other senior UN official on the flight was Lynn Hastings, UN Resident Co-ordinator and Humanitarian Co-ordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Ms Hastings, who is usually based in Jerusalem, has had her visa revoked by Israeli authorities due to her demand for life-saving aid to Palestinians, criticising Israeli bombing of Gaza and her limited criticism of Hamas.

Ms Nusseibeh added: “We’re going as countries, ambassadors in our national capacities to Rafah to learn firsthand what is needed in terms of a humanitarian operations scale up that meet the needs of the Palestinian people in Gaza and to promote why a humanitarian ceasefire is an imperative.

“And also to recognise the crucial life-saving work of the UN and humanitarian organisations in this crisis who need our support for their life-saving work on ground in extremely challenging circumstances.”

The UAE has also had doctors accompany the diplomatic delegation, in addition to Dr Maha Barakat, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Health and Life Sciences, who has played a pivotal role in coordinating medical aid and treatment of patients.

The trip comes days after the US vetoed a UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire to the Israel-Gaza war. The resolution, sponsored by the UAE, was supported by 13 countries. Britain abstained and the US voted against the motion.

Updated: December 12, 2023, 6:43 PM