Dichiarazione del Commissario generale Philippe Lazzarini al Vertice congiunto d’emergenza della Lega degli Stati arabi e dell’Organizzazione della cooperazione islamica

Riyadh, 11 November 2023

Your Majesties, Heads of States and Governments,

Mr. Chair, Your Royal Highness Mohamed Ben Salman


Thank you for the opportunity to address the joint extraordinary summit.

The past month has been incredibly painful for all of us.

UNRWA, the UN Agency for Palestine Refugees, is in mourning for 101 colleagues confirmed killed in Gaza.

On Monday, UN flags worldwide will be at half-mast to honor their memory.

Across the Gaza Strip, more than 10,000 people have reportedly been killed, with the majority to be women and children. Many more are surely still under the rubble.

The Israeli Forces have pushed over 1.5 million people out of the north of the Gaza Strip.

More than 700,000 women, children and men now live in UNRWA schools and shelters.

I was in Gaza last week, my first time since the war started.

What I saw will mark me forever.

Every little girl and boy I met in an UNRWA shelter asked me for bread and water.

Children used to learn and laugh in the school I visited.

Now, the school is an overcrowded shelter that lacks the minimum standards for a dignified life.

The continuous bombardment, together with the siege, are choking Gaza and its people.

Basic services are crumbling.

Everything is running out — food, water, medicine, and fuel.

The dramatic developments at the al-Shifa hospital last night pushed many health staff and wounded people to leave.


I have 13,000 colleagues in Gaza. Most are displaced.

Many continue to work.

perate 150 UNRWA shelters.

They keep one third of our health centres open and manage mobile clinics and deliver medicines to hospitals.

They deliver flour to bakeries and bring bread back to the shelters.

My colleague Maha calls her job a “mission impossible.”

Especially when she tries to reassure her children every morning that they will not die.


Today, Gazans feel de-humanized and abandoned.

They are yearning for reassurance, especially from their Arab and Muslim brothers and sisters, that they hear the crying of their children, and see the fear in the eyes of their mothers.

On Thursday, I addressed the International Conference in Paris to support civilians in Gaza.

I warned of the dangers of double standards.

I explicitly described the ongoing campaign aimed at dehumanizing Palestinians.

I also firmly stated our position against the forced displacement of the people of Gaza, most of whom are descendants of Palestine Refugees.

I cautioned against the spillover of the conflict into the region.

The West Bank has reached a boiling point, with the Israeli Forces and settler violence claiming lives daily.

The Lebanon-Israel border is simmering with tension.


The Palestinians in Gaza have always relied on the Arab and Muslim world for solidarity.

Today, they also need you to turn this solidarity into further and stronger action.

I am seeking your support for three specific and urgent matters:

First, to reach a humanitarian ceasefire, with strict adherence to international humanitarian law.

We must insist on protecting civilians and civilian infrastructure, including UN facilities and hospitals.

This should be our recurrent request. I am sure that many of you can influence action on the ground. No efforts should be spared at this point.

Second, a meaningful and continuous flow of humanitarian aid is essential.

We must make the flow of supplies match the immense humanitarian needs.

But the logistics and the verification of trucks by Israel are extremely cumbersome. They only allow a limited number of trucks into Gaza.

We must increase the volume of aid and use other crossings, including those within Israel, like Kerem Abu Salem.

Third, UNRWA urgently needs funds and your voice.

UNRWA is not only the largest UN agency in Gaza but also the last remaining lifeline for 2.2 million people.

We can offer much more if we have the means.

I sincerely thank the countries that have already announced contributions for their generous response.

And I respectfully call on other members of the League and the OIC to also show your solidarity by supporting UNRWA.

I want to tell people in our shelters that the Arab and Islamic world tasked us to help them and gave us the resources to do so.

Finally, I need you to firmly defend the Agency against false and insidious claims that its schools teach hatred or that it has let the civilians in Gaza down. These accusations come from those who want us to fail.

They fuel a toxic and deeply polarized environment.

To conclude,

We must also consider the day after.

A political solution has become a matter of life and death for millions of people.

A genuine prospect of Palestinian statehood is critical.

We must step back from the brink before it’s too late.

I urge you, members of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to act now to change the trajectory of this crisis.

With your support, UNRWA is ready to do its part.

Thank you.

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