The press release issued by the Foreign Office on 3 November 2023.
Statement by Ambassador Tom Woodroffe at the OCHA Briefing on the Humanitarian Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Thank you very much Lisa [Doughten] and of course to you Under-Secretary-General Martin Griffiths. I want to start by expressing our deep appreciation to you Martin for your tireless efforts in recent weeks and, of course, to the work of the UN and all humanitarian partners for their lifesaving efforts in such incredibly challenging circumstances. Like others, I want to share the UK’s condolences to the families and friends of all UNWRA colleagues who have lost their lives, and to all Palestinians and Israelis who have lost loved ones.
In response to this acute humanitarian crisis, the UK has significantly stepped up our humanitarian efforts. Our Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary and UN Minister Lord Ahmad, have all visited the region over the last two weeks focused on these efforts and on three key priorities.
Firstly, we have been clear that all sides must comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law. That means that every possible precaution must be taken to protect civilians wherever they are. It also means that all hostages must be released immediately, safely and without conditions.
Second, the UK continues to call for immediate, unimpeded, and safe humanitarian access to Gaza, so that lifesaving aid, including water, fuel, medicine, and food, can reach the civilians who desperately need it. Piped water supplies and allowing fuel to enter Gaza are essential to allow hospitals and other critical infrastructure to operate. And we urge all parties to allow for humanitarian pauses, which would ensure safe aid delivery and critical repairs to key infrastructure including water and electricity.
Whilst we welcome the re-opening of Rafah crossing, we are aware that this is not sufficient to meet the soaring needs. We urge the opening of other border crossings, such as Kerem Shalom, as well as increased access through existing commercial routes such as Port Said, to enable more humanitarian aid to reach civilians in need.
Finally, we have increased our funding to the humanitarian response to support our partners and the people of Gaza. We have committed a further $37 million in humanitarian assistance since October 16, doubling the UK’s commitment to the Occupied Palestinian Territories this year.