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Gaza, MSF speaks to the UN Security Council: “An immediate and lasting ceasefire is needed”


The speech of the MSF secretary-general to the UN Security Council has just finished.

Christopher Lockyear, secretary general of Doctors Without Borders [ Médecins sans Frontières] (MSF), in a speech to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), urged member states to call for an immediate and lasting ceasefire in Gaza and the unequivocal protection of medical facilities, staff, and patients.

“Meeting after meeting, resolution after resolution, this body has failed to effectively address this conflict. We have seen members of this Council deliberate and dilly-dally while civilians died. These deaths, this destruction, and this forced displacement are the result of military and political choices that blatantly ignore the lives of civilians. These choices could have been, and still can be made very differently,” said Christopher Lockyear of MSF.

After more than four months of war, nearly 30,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza amid Israel’s continued bombing and attacks. An estimated 1.7 million people – almost 75% of the population – are forcibly displaced and suffer from infected wounds and diseases, living in unsafe, unhealthy and deplorable conditions. Providing healthcare in Gaza is becoming virtually impossible, as not even medical facilities are respected and safe from military attacks.

“Our patients have terrible injuries, amputations, crushed limbs and severe burns. They need sophisticated care. They need long and intensive rehabilitation. Doctors cannot treat these wounds on the battlefield or in the ashes of destroyed hospitals. Our surgeons are running out of basic gauze to stop the blood. They use it once, express the blood, wash [the gauze], sterilize it and reuse it for the next patient,” continued Lockyear.

On February 20, the same day the United States vetoed the UN Security Council ceasefire resolution, the wife and daughter-in-law of an MSF staff member were killed and six other people were injured after an Israeli tank hit a recognizable MSF staff shelter in Al-Mawasi, Khan Younis. Last week, Israeli forces evacuated and raided Nasser Hospital, the largest medical facility in southern Gaza. Those who were forced to leave have nowhere to go. They cannot return to the largely destroyed northern part of Gaza and are not safe in Rafah, in the south, where Israeli forces have carried out airstrikes and announced plans for a major ground offensive.

Since the start of the war in Gaza, MSF medical teams and patients have been forced to evacuate nine different health facilities in the Gaza Strip. In total, five MSF colleagues were killed. Providing medical care and scaling up life-saving assistance is nearly impossible due to the intensity of attacks and bombings, as well as [due to the] intense fighting.

“The consequences of throwing international humanitarian law to the wind will reverberate far beyond Gaza,” concluded Lockyear. “It will be a lasting burden on our collective conscience. This is not just political inaction, it has become political complicity.”

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