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Gaza: MSF calls for immediate ceasefire at UN Security Council

23 Feb 24 | 25 Feb 24

Gaza: MSF calls for immediate ceasefire at UN Security Council

On 22 February, MSF addressed the United Nations Security Council to call for an immediate and sustained ceasefire in Gaza.

Delivering the speech, Christopher Lockyear, Secretary General of Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF), also urged for the unequivocal protection of medical facilities, staff, and patients.

"Meeting after meeting, resolution after resolution, this body has failed to effectively address this conflict," said Lockyear.

“We have watched members of this Council deliberate and delay while civilians die. This death, destruction, and forced displacement are the result of military and political choices that blatantly disregard civilian lives. These choices could have been – and still can be – made very differently.”

After more than four months of war, nearly 30,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza amid Israel’s constant bombing and attacks. Approximately 1.7 million people – nearly 75 percent of the population – are estimated to be forcibly displaced and facing infected wounds and disease as they live in unsafe, unhealthy, and deplorable conditions.

Providing health care is becoming virtually impossible in Gaza as not even medical facilities are respected and safe from military attacks.

“Our patients have catastrophic injuries, amputations, crushed limbs, and severe burns,” continued Lockyear.

“They need sophisticated care. They need long and intensive rehabilitation. Medics cannot treat these injuries on a battlefield or in the ashes of destroyed hospitals. Our surgeons are running out of basic gauze to stop their patients from bleeding out. They use it once, squeeze out the blood, wash it, sterilize it, and reuse it for the next patient.”

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On February 20, the same day the United States vetoed a Security Council ceasefire resolution, an MSF staff member’s wife and daughter-in-law were killed and six other people were injured when an Israeli tank fired on a clearly marked MSF staff shelter in Al-Mawasi in Khan Younis.

Last week, Israeli forces evacuated and raided Nasser Hospital, which is the largest medical facility in southern Gaza. Those who were forced out have nowhere to go. They can’t move back to the largely destroyed northern part of Gaza, and they aren’t safe in Rafah in the south, where Israeli forces have carried out airstrikes and announced plans for an extensive ground offensive.

Since the war in Gaza began, MSF medical teams and patients have been forced to evacuate nine different healthcare facilities in the Gaza Strip. In total, five MSF colleagues have been killed.

Providing health care and scaling up lifesaving assistance is nearly impossible because of the intensity of bombings and shelling, as well as intense fighting.

“The consequences of casting international humanitarian law to the wind will reverberate well beyond Gaza,” summarised Lockyear.

“It will be an enduring burden on our collective conscience. This is not just political inaction – it has become political complicity.”

MSF and the Israel – Hamas conflict

An unprecedented humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Gaza. MSF teams have worked to treat the wounded and supply overwhelmed hospitals as indiscriminate airstrikes and a state of siege threaten millions of men, women and children.

Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is horrified by the events that began on Saturday 7 October – both the brutal mass killing of civilians perpetrated by Hamas in Israel, and by the massive attacks on Gaza now being pursued by the Israeli military.