FAO Council 174 December 2023
1. I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and my own country, Norway. The EU countries, Denmark, Finland and Sweden, align themselves with the EU statement.
2. The Nordic countries are deeply alarmed by the immense civilian suffering of the Palestinian people, as well as what this means for the future for both Palestinians and Israelis. The humanitarian situation in Gaza and its extreme consequences for the population is of grave concern.
3. Allow me also to express deep condolences for the staggering loss of civilian life, and the condolences of our governments for the death of more than 100 United Nations humanitarian staff in Gaza.
4. We pay tribute to the heroic efforts of humanitarian and health workers, who are saving lives and alleviating suffering under extreme circumstances.
5. The conflict in Gaza has led to a humanitarian and food security crisis of a major order. Up to 80% of Gaza’s population of 2.1 million people has been internally displaced, and the majority urgently requires food assistance.
6. While the extent of the damage is still unknown, in Gaza, it is likely that most of the agricultural infrastructure, soil, and land will be negatively affected, and the current stock of livestock will be decimated due to the inability to feed and water animals as well as emergency consumption.
7. While agricultural land in Gaza is limited, agriculture remains an important part of the Gazan economy and constitutes a significant source of export revenues. Lack of fuel and electricity has had a devastating effect on food security. It has disrupted refrigeration, irrigation, and incubation devices. Wheat flour is no longer available in markets and bakeries are not functioning.
8. We appreciate that FAO will participate through the Food Security Cluster and in coordination with the entire Humanitarian System, implementing various assessments, including a Rapid Damage Assessment.
9. The Nordic countries fully agree with the Security Council’s call for extended humanitarian pauses in Gaza to save and protect civilian lives, in addition to the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, and for full, safe, rapid, and unhindered humanitarian access. For humanitarian assistance at scale, it is necessary to open additional crossing points for aid.
10. We have been clear about Israel’s right to defend itself, within the limitations of international law. We reiterate that all military operations must be in line with international humanitarian law, including protection of civilians and humanitarian personnel.
11. There is no military solution to this conflict. The Nordic countries continue to call on Palestinian and Israeli leaders to seek peace through political dialogue. Only a negotiated two-state solution can achieve lasting and durable peace between Israel and Palestine, and in the region.