Gazans have nowhere safe to go, says UAE as UN rejects resolution for ceasefire in Israel-Palestine conflict

The UAE remains hopeful that the council will “soon speak with one voice”


Sahim Salim

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Palestinian children react after an Israeli airstrike at the Rafah refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip on October 17, 2023. AFP
Palestinian children react after an Israeli airstrike at the Rafah refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip on October 17, 2023. AFP

Published: Tue 17 Oct 2023, 12:33 PM

Last updated: Tue 17 Oct 2023, 11:11 PM

Civilians in Gaza are once again facing a “ruinous war with nowhere safe to go”, the UAE has said as it expressed disappointment that the UN Security Council “could not come together to respond to their urgent humanitarian needs”.

This came after the UN’s most powerful body rejected a Russian resolution that condemned violence and terrorism against civilians but made no mention of Hamas. The UAE, which was among the four countries that joined Russia in voting for the resolution, said Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people.

A surprise attack by Hamas on October 7 killed 1,300 Israelis. Israel’s retaliatory airstrikes have claimed 2,750 lives, with Gazans in the north being told to head south to avoid an expected ground war.

Lana Nusseibeh, the UAE's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said the evacuation of more than one million people “who have nowhere safe to go and no assistance” is “an unjustified demand”.

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Lana Nusseibeh. Photo: WAM
Lana Nusseibeh. Photo: WAM

“Gaza, one of the most densely populated places on Earth, is besieged, with no access to fuel, electricity, food, water, or medical supplies,” the ambassador said during the Security Council meeting. “Two million people are now relying on a solitary pipeline for water, as none of the three desalination plants can operate without power.”

Calling the Hamas attack on Israel “unjustifiable”, Nusseibeh said all council members have “rightly condemned the indiscriminate murder of innocent Israeli civilians and the taking of 199 of them hostage, including children”.

However, Hamas does not represent the people of Gaza who are suffering immensely today, she noted. Long before the attack, Gaza was already one of the “most desperate places on Earth to live”.

Citing the UN assessment of humanitarian needs in Gaza from January 2023, she said 1.3 million people required aid for their basic survival. “Half of those were children; almost 60 per cent of the need ranged between severe and catastrophic. In the past decade alone, Gazans have lived through three rounds of major conflict. The children of Gaza have lost hope.”

She called on the council to come together to protect all civilians, the unconditional release of all hostages, and the safe provision of humanitarian assistance.

“Access to fuel, food, water, medical aid, and other basic necessities must be fully restored. We must create a framework for rapid, unimpeded, and safe humanitarian access for the brave workers who are risking their lives today on the ground. The call for humanitarian ceasefires is essential for the realization of all of the above,” she added.

Referring to the draft resolution put forward by the Russian delegation, she said it responds to these specific humanitarian needs. “That is why the UAE voted in favour of it, and that is why we are disappointed that it could not command the support of the Council today.”

The UAE remains hopeful that the council will “soon speak with one voice” on this crisis.

“We believe this council should be able to find unity on two things — international humanitarian law must be upheld — indiscriminate attacks must be rejected and are unjustifiable — and the cycle of violence overall must end.

“The events of the last nine days have made it painfully clear that without a determined political horizon, the spectre of bloodshed will continue to haunt both Israelis and Palestinians.”

Reiterating the UAE’s call for a two-state solution, Nusseibeh said Palestinians and Israelis deserve “not only to live, which is the bare minimum, but to thrive, side by side, in their own independent, prosperous, and secure states”.


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