Remarks at a OCHA Briefing on the Humanitarian Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Ambassador Lisa Carty
U.S. Permanent Representative to the Economic and Social Council
New York, New York
November 3, 2023


Thank you, Martin for your leadership. And many thanks to Lynn and Tom for being with us this morning and for the critical work that they are doing.

To the UNRWA colleagues, we join you in mourning the loss of members of your team. We are moved by the dedication of UNRWA and other humanitarian staff, who even in the face of their own displacement and danger continue to serve others. There is simply no replacement for the critical role of the UN, particularly of UNRWA.

The United States has been clear that the lives of all civilians, including UN personnel and humanitarian workers, must be protected.

We have also been clear in our unequivocal condemnation of the attacks by Hamas terrorists. Hamas has shown absolutely no respect for human life. Hamas has killed more than 1,400 people in Israel, uses Palestinian civilians as human shields, and continues to hold hostages.

President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken have underscored, publicly and privately that as Israel exercises its right to defend itself, it must do so in line with international humanitarian law.

Secretary Blinken recently said: “The lives of Palestinian civilians must be protected. This means the flow of food, water, medicine, fuel, and other essential humanitarian aid into Gaza must increase immediately and significantly. It means Palestinian civilians must be able to stay out of harm’s way. It means every possible precaution must be taken to safeguard humanitarian sites. And it means humanitarian pauses must be considered for these purposes.”

These words are backed by actions. As we speak, Secretary Blinken is again in the region. His second trip in three weeks. He is pursuing these objectives, including humanitarian pauses to allow aid to reach Gaza and be distributed. And to allow safe passage for civilians, which will help people access humanitarian assistance or move to safer locations. He also will focus on concrete steps to be taken to minimize harm to men, women, and children.

Since his appointment as U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Humanitarian Issues, Ambassador David Satterfield has also worked to facilitate the flow of humanitarian aid.

As a result, food, water, and medical supplies have begun to move into Gaza. But we know that much more is urgently needed. We are working with Israel, Egypt, the UN, and others, to expand and sustain these efforts. The United States has committed an additional $100 million in humanitarian assistance, bringing total aid to the Palestinian people to more than $1 billion in the last two and a half years. We call on others to join us urgently in meeting the UN’s appeal.

Thank you.