Speech given by Mirjana Spoljaric, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, in Amman. Call for action: urgent humanitarian response in Gaza

Excellencies, ministers, colleagues

I have two calls today:

First both the letter and the spirit of the Geneva Conventions must be faithfully implemented.

The sheer destruction, the disregard for people’s lives and dignity, are appalling.

This conflict threatens to set a dangerous tolerance for violations which could set a precedent for how wars are fought in the future.

The Geneva Conventions insist: every human life is equally worth of protection.

The parties to the conflict, and those that support them, must ensure that the law is interpreted and applied in a way that immediately guarantees:

  •        That all civilians are protected,
  •        That all persons deprived of liberty are treated humanely and
  •        That all hostages are released.

Second, political agreements must be concluded and implemented to reduce violence and enable a functioning humanitarian system

The ICRC welcomes all efforts to protect civilians, such as UN Security Council Resolution 2735, but they must now be translated into action.

As a reliable and trusted neutral intermediary, the ICRC stands ready to facilitate the implementation of at least parts of such agreements as we did last November when over 100 hostages were released.

The status quo cannot hold. Without a political agreement supporting a ceasefire, the humanitarian assistance system is pushed to a point of collapse.

We are not able to bring enough critical supplies into Gaza today and we face immense security and logistical challenges still.

A massive humanitarian scale-up is required, including safe pathways for distribution, to provide impartial aid.

As an occupying power, Israel must provide for the basic needs of the population and facilitate the rapid and unimpeded delivery of humanitarian relief.

Dear excellencies, ministers,

Humanitarian relief – such as the field hospital that the ICRC and the Palestine Red Crescent with our Movement partners have opened in Gaza – is a lifeline for thousands of sick and injured.

But it can never be a substitute for the lack of political action to end the suffering.

So states cannot wait any longer to uphold their legal – and moral – responsibilities.

Thank you.