Statement by Ms Audbjörg Halldórsdottir
Permanent Delegate of Iceland to UNESCO
42nd UNESCO General Conference, Paris 10 November 2023
APX Commission, item 4.24
The catastrophic humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza is deeply concerning and we strongly deplore the immense suffering of innocent civilians and the thousands that have been killed to date.
Iceland supports the call of UN agencies for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza and stresses the need for safe and unimpeded humanitarian access, protection of civilians, medical personnel and humanitarian workers.
Preventing further escalation of hostilities is vital.
Iceland has condemned in the strongest terms the brutal terrorist attacks by Hamas on October 7, including the taking of hostages and calls for their immediate release.
We are gravely concerned about reports of violations of international humanitarian law, including the significant civilian death toll as a result of Israeli strikes on the Jabaliya and Al-Maghazi refugee camps, UN schools and other civilian targets.
Over four thousand children have been killed since October 7. This is unacceptable.
The ongoing conflict affects all of UNESCO’s fields of competence and the consequences call for a strengthened UNESCO programme of emergency assistance in Gaza in the fields of education, culture, science, communication and information.
The Government of Iceland has doubled its financial contribution to the UN emergency appeal for Gaza. We urge other donors to step up their support to critical front-line delivery of aid to the people of Gaza.
The continuous cycle of violence in Israel and Palestine must stop. Military solutions will not provide sustainable security in the region. The only way forward is through internationally supported political and diplomatic dialogue towards the goal of a two-state solution.