Gaza: Humanitarian Situation - Commons Urgent Question

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords am 4:00 pm ar 17 Ebrill 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) 4:00, 17 Ebrill 2024

My Lords, with the House’s indulgence, I will begin with a personal reflection. I have just heard the tragic news of the passing of Lord Rosser. Richard was well known to me; indeed, he was my oppo when I was a Transport Minister. He was always precise, courteous and forensic in his examination. He will be missed by us all.

I shall now repeat in the form of a Statement an Answer given by my honourable friend the Minister for the Americas, Caribbean and the Overseas Territories in the other place on the humanitarian situation in Gaza. The Statement is as follows:

“Earlier this month, we passed a grim milestone: six months since Hamas’s horrific terrorist attack on Israel. The United Kingdom Government have been working with partners across the region to secure the release of hostages.

Palestinian civilians have spent these months suffering, with conditions worsening by the day. The humanitarian situation in Gaza is dire. The Iran attack and our support for Israel have not changed our focus on ensuring that Israel meets its commitments to enable at least 500 aid trucks a day to enter Gaza; to open Ashdod port for aid deliveries; to expand the Jordan land corridor to at least 100 trucks a day; to open a crossing into northern Gaza; and to extend opening hours at Kerem Shalom and Nitzana. We are pushing as hard as we can to get aid to Palestinian civilians. As this House knows, we have been urging Israel at the highest levels to take immediate action on the bottlenecks holding up humanitarian relief. We have recently seen a small increase in the number of aid trucks being allowed to enter Gaza, but not all of them are full, and numbers are not yet close to reaching the levels required given the severity of the humanitarian situation we now see.

We will continue to press Israel to take immediate action to open Ashdod fully for humanitarian aid. Meanwhile, we recently announced new support for a life-saving aid corridor by sea to Gaza, including the deployment of a Royal Navy ship, which has now arrived in the Mediterranean and is ready to integrate with the US pier and provide a command and control platform.

We are also committing up to £9.7 million for aid deliveries through that corridor, as well as providing logistical expertise and equipment. In recent weeks, the Royal Air Force has conducted seven air drops along the Gazan coast, delivering more than 58 tonnes of food. The UK-Med field hospital, funded by the United Kingdom, is now up and running in Gaza and has already treated more than 8,000 people, a high proportion of them children. We need to see the operating environment in Gaza improve, so that more aid gets in and can be distributed quickly, safely and effectively. Israel must ensure that the UN has the access, equipment and staff that it needs to do that.

We were horrified by the attack on the World Central Kitchen convoy, which killed seven aid workers, including three British nationals. Israel must do more to protect aid workers, including guaranteed deconfliction for aid convoys and other humanitarian work to ensure that they can operate safely. The findings of Israel’s investigation must be published in full, and followed up with a wholly independent review, to ensure the utmost transparency and accountability.

Six months on, however much we might wish otherwise, the fighting has not yet come to an end. We cannot not stand by. The Foreign Secretary is in the region, pressing again for further action”.