Middle East conflict: Federal Council reiterates urgent need to respect international humanitarian law and proposes additional CHF 90 million in humanitarian aid

Bern, 01.11.2023 - The Federal Council reiterates its unequivocal condemnation of the terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas since 7 October and calls for the immediate release of all hostages. It recognises Israel's right to ensure its defence and security, and stresses that international humanitarian law must be respected by all parties. In view of the extremely alarming humanitarian situation, the Federal Council is proposing to allocate a further CHF 90 million in aid to the region.

The humanitarian consequences of the armed conflict in the Middle East are dire in Israel, in the occupied Palestinian territory and in the neighbouring countries affected. The Federal Council is asking Parliament for additional resources to provide emergency humanitarian aid worth CHF 90 million throughout the region.

The funds will go mainly to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the UN and international humanitarian NGOs. These organisations will offer shelter and protection to the people affected and provide them with basic foodstuffs, medicines and hygiene products.

Since 7 October, thousands of civilians have lost their lives. The Federal Council has condemned the Hamas terrorist attacks against civilians in Israel in the strongest possible terms. The humanitarian situation in Gaza is dire. In mid-October, the UN estimated that 1.4 million people had been displaced within the Gaza Strip. The situation in the West Bank is also highly unstable.

The Federal Council recognises Israel's right to ensure its defence and security, and reiterates that it is essential for both sides to protect civilians and respect international humanitarian law. Humanitarian pauses or truces are necessary to guarantee access to aid and meet the needs of the population.

Risk of regional destabilisation

The Middle East conflict is threatening to destabilise the entire region, not least because of further massive forced displacements from Gaza. The number of people dependent on humanitarian aid is highly likely to increase across the region.

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