Remarks by Secretary-General to Gaza staff 

Posted:  Thursday, 15 January 2009, New York| Author:  EOSG 

The following remarks were given via video link from the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) headquarters in Jerusalem while on a week-long visit to the Middle East with stops scheduled in Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, the occupied Palestinian territory, Syria and Turkey.

I am glad that I can be with you today and hear from you first-hand about the devastating situation in Gaza.

I know of no words that can possibly alleviate the terrible situation you are in, and the daily struggle you are going through to keep your family, children and friends safe in a time of violence and destruction.

I want to extend my appreciation and gratitude to you for all the hard work you have done over the past few weeks. Your courage and dedication has been limitless and I remain deeply thankful for your commitment.

I want to express my sincere condolences to all of you for the loss of four UNRWA staff members as well as nine trainees.  You have lost friends and colleagues, people dedicated to the mission and work of the United Nations. This meaningless loss of life should never be allowed to happen and I have done and will continue to do all I possibly can to bring the violence to an end.

I also know that several of our staff have sustained damage to their private homes and there have been several “near misses”.

I am angered and deeply worried by the threat of the core protection under which the UN is operating, the UN flag. Even an UNRWA school designated as shelter was unable to offer sanctuary to civilians fleeing the fighting.

During my visit here, I will meet with representatives from the Government of Israel and I will repeat my call for an immediate ceasefire. Security Council resolution 1860 of 8 January 2009 (S/RES/1860) provides a framework to end the current violence. Only an immediate ceasefire can bring to an end the loss of civilian lives and the terrible suffering of the whole population living through the devastation of the Israeli offensive.

I will also call on the Government of Israel to ensure constant and sustainable humanitarian supply lines, for food, fuel and medical supplies. Further, I will stress the urgency of allowing the people of Gaza to have safe access to food, income, and services. However, no amount of humanitarian aid can alleviate the current situation, only an end to violence will do so. 

I wish to thank again you and all your colleagues – not able to be here today – for the tremendous dedication and selfless commitment you have all shown in this crisis. I wish you courage and strength to continue in your work. My prayers are with you and your families – especially your children.

BAN Ki-moon