Delivered by: Ghasaq Shaheen, Political Coordinator
I would like to thank Mr. Grandi for his valuable briefing and efforts.
Today we are discussing a very important issue. The number of displaced people around the world is constantly increasing, all while many of them lack protection and basic services. The international community is required to make urgent and collective efforts to support displaced persons, internally displaced persons, and refugees alike. In this regard, I would like to focus on the following areas:
First, we must ensure that all internally displaced people and refugees have access to basic services, including health care, food, and safe drinking water. We must also take into consideration the needs of women and children, who are disproportionately impacted by conflict. This requires strengthening coordination with relevant humanitarian organizations and United Nations agencies, and enhancing cooperation with host governments to ensure safe access to relief aid.
This issue is one of the UAE’s foreign policy priorities, and we are committed to delivering humanitarian aid to refugees and internally displaced people around the world. Our efforts to alleviate the suffering of refugees and internally displaced people include facilitating and establishing humanitarian air bridges. The UAE sent extensive food and medical supplies immediately after the outbreak of crises in Ukraine, Sudan, and Palestine, and following the earthquakes and floods that occurred in Syria, Turkey, Libya, Afghanistan, and Pakistan this year.
In this context, I would like to focus on the catastrophic conditions of over two million people in the Gaza Strip, who have been subject to continuous Israeli bombing for three weeks. Even before the last war, which has displaced more than 60 percent of civilians, two-thirds of Gaza’s population were refugees already living in difficult conditions.
As you are all aware, the situation has deteriorated dramatically amidst Israel’s imposition of a siege on 9 October. The siege is cutting off electricity and water and preventing the entry of food, fuel, and medical supplies into Gaza, except for a handful of shipments which represents less than 4 percent of the volume of commodities that entered before the war began. Under these horrific circumstances, we stress the need to ensure safe and sustainable humanitarian aid access throughout Gaza.
Second, all refugees must be protected from all forms of violence, including exploitation and sexual and gender-based violence, through preventive programs and by providing safe spaces for refugees. This should be done while exploring ways to allow refugees to return to their homelands in a safe, voluntary, and dignified manner when favorable conditions exist.
In this context, we would like to point out the Rohingya refugees’ crisis. This is a protracted and painful humanitarian situation, but it does not receive sufficient attention from the international community. Therefore, we call for the intensification of international diplomatic efforts to resolve the Rohingya crisis, address the deteriorating humanitarian conditions the Rohingya face, and create the appropriate conditions for their voluntary, safe, sustainable, and dignified return to a stable homeland.
We once against underscore the situation of refugees and internally displaced people in Gaza. There is an urgent need to stop the war and protect civilians from the ongoing Israeli bombardment, which even hit the places where people sought refuge. This includes a strike on a refugee camp in Jabalia today, which, according to initial reports, led to the killing and injury of hundreds of people. Israel has bombed 42 percent of UNRWA’s facilities. These facilities are currently hosting more than 670,000 displaced people. Bombardment has also hit other civilian objects protected under international humanitarian law. Now, more than 8,000 people have been killed, and 70 percent of them are women and children. We also reject attempts to forcibly displace Palestinians and call on Israel to cancel its orders regarding the evacuation of more than a million people from northern to southern Gaza.
Third, we must focus on addressing the root causes of displacement to avoid the suffering that accompanies it. This approach would be more efficient and cost-effective for the international community, and it requires advancing development in countries that lack economic opportunities and preventing and resolving conflicts peacefully.
International efforts must also be intensified to address climate change. According to the Institute for Economics and Peace, the number of displaced people around the world due to climate change is expected to reach more than 1 billion in 2050. Therefore, adopting effective strategies towards climate change and limiting its repercussions are essential to reduce the number of displaced people. We look forward to continuing and furthering these discussions during COP28, which the UAE will host next month.
In conclusion, the UAE will continue to work closely with international partners, including the UNHCR, to support refugees and IDPs around the world and ensure adequate living conditions for them.