MSF to UN Security Council: The people of Gaza need an immediate and sustained ceasefire now

Christopher Lockyear, secretary general of the international medical humanitarian organisation Doctors Without Borders (MSF), called today on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to demand an immediate and sustained ceasefire in Gaza. Addressing the Council at its monthly meeting on Gaza, Lockyear also called 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,” Lockyear said. “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.”

The devastation caused by airstrikes in Gaza. Photographer: Anonymous | Date: 21/10/2023 | Location: Gaza
The devastation caused by airstrikes in Gaza. Photographer: Anonymous | Date: 21/10/2023 | Location: Gaza

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 per cent 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,” Lockyear said. “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.”

On February 20, the same day the US vetoed a UNSC 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,” Lockyear said. “It will be an enduring burden on our collective conscience. This is not just political inaction—it has become political complicity.”

Final UNSC Speech_MSF Briefing to the UN Security Council on the Situation in Gaza.doc 55 KB

About Doctors Without Borders (MSF)

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is a global network of principled medical and other professionals who specialise in medical humanitarian work, driven by our common humanity and guided by medical ethics. We strive to bring emergency medical care to people caught in conflicts, crises, and disasters in more than 70 countries worldwide.

In South Africa, the organisation is recognised as one of the pioneers of providing Antiretroviral Treatment (ART) in the public sector and started the first HIV programmes in South Africa in 1999. Until today, the focus of MSF’s interventions in the country has primarily been on developing new testing and treatment strategies for HIV/AIDS and TB in Eshowe (Kwa-Zulu Natal) and Khayelitsha (Western Cape).

In Tshwane, we run a migration project, and we offer medical and psychosocial care to migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers who struggle to access public health services under South Africa’s increasing restrictions.

Previously, we offered free, high-quality, confidential medical care to survivors of SGBV in Rustenburg.

To learn more about our work in South Africa, please visit this page on our website (www.msf.org.za). To support MSF’s work:

  • SMS “JOIN” to 42110 to donate R30 Once-off
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Seipati Moloi
Seipati Moloi Head of Media and Digital Relations, Doctors Without Borders (MSF)
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