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Remarks by Ambassador Geng Shuang at the UN Security Council Briefing on UNRWA

2024-04-17 23:05

President, 


I thank Jordan and other Arab countries for their initiative to convene this meeting. I thank Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini for his briefing. 


Since the outbreak of the conflict in Gaza over six months ago, more than 34,000 innocent civilians have lost their lives. Gaza is mired in an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe. At this very moment, millions are struggling with hunger, diseases, pain, and despair. Amid the gloom of war and death, the light of humanitarianism has never faded. UNRWA is the backbone for humanitarian response in Palestine. It has maintained its operations in Gaza over the past six months, bringing the hope for survival to the suffering people in Gaza. UNRWA staff, while facing gunfire and bombardment, deliver and distribute life-saving supplies and do everything they can to provide shelter and relief to the local people. They have worked hard, shed sweat and blood, and made the ultimate sacrifice. So far, over 170 UNRWA staff have been killed in the conflict. We would like to express our deepest condolences and pay our highest regard to the humanitarian workers who are sticking to their posts. I would like to make three points. 


First, UNRWA is indispensable for the humanitarian assistance to Gaza. Secretary-General Guterres has clearly highlighted that no UN agency can replace UNRWA. Cutting off the relief work by the Agency is cutting off the last lifeline for the people in Gaza. In addition, UNRWA is providing relief to Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, among others. If UNRWA stops its operations, millions of Palestinian refugees will lose the support and the stability of relevant countries will be impacted. China urges Israel to stop its interference with and restrictions on UNRWA’s work and ensure its normal operations. 


Second, we support the UN in conducting an independent and impartial investigation of the allegations against UNRWA staff. But the investigation should not have a predetermined conclusion. Still less should it be used to deny UNRWA’s contribution, or even undermine its work. Individual cases should not overshadow the big picture of Gaza’s humanitarian relief. The Independent Review Group appointed by Secretary-General Guterres has clearly pointed out that there are a significant number of mechanisms within the Agency to ensure neutrality. China rejects the malicious attacks on UNRWA in the absence of any solid evidence or using the investigation as a pretext to launch unfounded accusations against the entire UN system. We urge Israel to immediately stop its attacks and smearing and call on relevant countries to resume funding to UNRWA as soon as possible. 


Third, the current priority is to implement the Council resolution to realize an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Providing relief under bombardment is an impossible task. Council Resolution 2728 clearly demands a ceasefire in Gaza. Regrettably, the month of Ramadan is over, but a ceasefire still has not materialized. We urge Israel to follow the demands of the resolution, stop its military offensive in Gaza, abandon its offensive plans on Rafah, lift its blockade of Gaza, open up all land crossings, ensure rapid, adequate, and safe access for humanitarian supplies, and provide necessary security guarantees for the operations of humanitarian agencies. We also urge the US to uphold a just position and make sincere efforts in this regard. 


President, 


Tomorrow, the Council will hold a high-level debate on the question of Palestine. We hope the international community could take that opportunity to show determination and willingness to push for the full implementation by Israel of the Council resolution and an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and work towards gradual deescalation in the region.


The Council will also vote on a draft resolution on the admission of Palestine to full UN membership. We are hopeful that justice will prevail, and that the Palestinian people's just cause of restoring the legitimate national rights will be realized. 


China will continue to work with the international community to tirelessly promote an early end to the fighting in Gaza, easing of the humanitarian catastrophe, implementation of the two-State solution, and lasting peace and security in the Middle East. 


Thank you, President.


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