Gaza: Speech by the HR/VP Borrell on the civilian deaths

April 23, 2024
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Dear President, Excellencies,

More than six months after the Hamas terrorist attacks, that we continue condemning in the strongest possible terms, the war started in Gaza. This is a watershed moment for the Middle East. We had yesterday the meeting with the Gulf countries [EU-GCC High-Level Forum on Regional Security and Cooperation] and this was very high on our agenda.

The recent Iranian strikes against Israel was also a clear escalatory attack, but we must not forget at the same time the gravity of human suffering in Gaza. The figures are there: more than 34,000 people killed, mostly civilians, women, children, twice this number wounded, 75% of the population displaced, at the brink of famine. We know that dozens of children have been already starved to death.

The cities in Gaza have been more destroyed than the German cities during the Second World War – just imagine the comparison.

A recent Interim Damage Assessment by the World Bank and by the United Nations, which has been supported financially by the European Union, assessed the direct damage at about $19 billion. This would be the cost of rebuilding the infrastructure of Gaza. [This is how it] was at the end of January 2024, so imagine now, [the situation is] much worse. I can say that more than 60% of the physical infrastructure has been damaged, and 35% fully destroyed.

At least 249 aid workers have been killed – I am talking about aid workers – according to the United Nations, since the 7th of October. Among them, 181 United Nations staff. I think that we have to pay tribute to all aid agencies, including UNRWA, which – UNRWA alone – have lost 178 employees.

Then come these Israeli strikes against the convoy of the World Central Kitchen that killed seven humanitarian workers, while they were delivering aid to the most vulnerable in Gaza.

But keep in mind, we were very moved by these seven people being killed, but before them there were 249, also being killed and maybe we were not as moved. People around the world say, “yes, that is very bad. These seven humanitarian workers deserve all our homage, but keep in mind that together there were 249 more”. […]

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Countries covered:

  • Palestine *
Human Rights