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Remarks by Ambassador Geng Shuang at the UN General Assembly Fourth Committee Briefing on UNRWA

2023-11-06 23:14

Madam Chair, 

I thank the briefing by UNRWA last Friday.

This round of Palestinian-Israeli conflict has lasted for a whole month, with the war still raging in Gaza and an unprecedented humanitarian disaster unfolding before our eyes. Today’s UNRWA is the last refuge and the only lifeline for the 2.3 million Gazans who have nowhere to go. Taking this opportunity, I would like to express our condolences to more than 80 UNRWA staff who died in this new round of conflict, to pay tribute to the UN staff and humanitarian and healthcare workers still resist in place serving Palestinian refugees in their line of duties, and to reiterate China's firm support to Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini and his UNRWA team.

As Secretary-General Guterres pointed out, even wars have rules. China condemns all violence and attacks against civilians and opposes all practices that violate international law. Every human life is equally precious. No civilians, Palestinian or Israeli, should be victims of armed conflict. The safety of UN staff and humanitarian and healthcare workers must be guaranteed. Hospitals, schools, refugee camps, and other civilian facilities should not be the targets of military operations. This red line enshrined in international humanitarian law should never be touched and this bottom line of international moral imperative and human conscience must be defended.

China is deeply concerned about the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza. The full siege since October 9 has cut off essential subsistence supplies in Gaza, rendering UNRWA’s relief efforts unsustainable. We once again call on Israel to lift the siege, rescind the emergency evacuation order, restore the supply of water, electricity, food, and fuel in Gaza as soon as possible, to stop the collective punishment against the people in Gaza. We appreciate the efforts by Egypt and other countries in the region and by Secretary-General Guterres to open humanitarian relief passages and call on Israel to create conditions for the full and effective operation of Rafah crossing. Recently, through UNRWA and other channels, China has also provided emergency humanitarian aid both financial and in-kind to the Gaza Strip.

Madam Chair,

A few days ago, Commissioner-General Lazzarini told people at Rafah crossing that a humanitarian ceasefire must be achieved as soon as possible. Otherwise, more people will die and a greater humanitarian disaster and a grievous spillover effect will follow. This is an urgent appeal made by humanitarian agencies that are saving people's lives in the frontline, an unequivocal requirement of the resolution of the emergency special session of the GA last month, and an outcry of the people in Gaza who are struggling on the brink of death.

As long as the war continues, there will inevitably be more violations of international humanitarian law. In the absence of a lasting ceasefire, any humanitarian assistance will just be a drop in the bucket. This war, if left unchecked, is likely to turn into a military catastrophe that engulfs the whole region. China supports the collective call made by heads of 18 UN agencies and NGOs for an immediate ceasefire as the overarching priority. And we support all parties in converging the efforts in this common direction.

Madam Chair,

The fundamental reason that the Palestinian-Israeli situation has repeatedly plunged into turmoil and the issue of Palestinian refugees has been protracted for more than 70 years is that the two-State solution has not been implemented and the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people have not been guaranteed. The fundamental solution to the Palestinian question lies in the establishment of an independent and fully sovereign state of Palestine based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. China calls for the convening of a more authoritative international peace conference as soon as possible to reach a new consensus on relaunching and implementing the two-State solution and define the specific steps. China will continue to work with the international community to make unremitting efforts to quell the war in Gaza at an early date, cease the humanitarian crisis there, and achieve peaceful coexistence between Palestine and Israel and long-term stability in the Middle East.

I thank you, Madam Chair.

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