Statement by IFRC President Kate Forbes to the International Conference on the Humanitarian Response for Gaza



The President is the highest personality within the IFRC, responsible for guiding the IFRC, ensuring it acts in line with decisions made by its governing bodies and exercises its functions as defined in our Constitution.

Delivered 11 June, 2024, Dead Sea, Jordan.

Excellencies, distinguished delegates and colleagues,

When I assumed the presidency of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), I never imagined that my first visit would be to Gaza and Israel—a profoundly emotional and profoundly challenging experience. 

The crisis in Gaza is not solely a humanitarian catastrophe; it is a deeply entrenched diplomatic impasse needing our urgent attention.

Since taking office, I have had the heartbreaking duty of writing 24 condolence letters for the loss of our dedicated volunteers and staff -20 from Palestine Red Crescent Society and 4 from Magen David Adom in Israel. These brave individuals dedicated their lives to alleviating human suffering but became victims of the violence they sought to mitigate. 

Let me be unequivocal: nothing can justify killing humanitarian aid workers, whose mission of peace, care, and compassion transcends all political boundaries. Healthcare and humanitarian aid workers and their facilities must be always protected, including the Red Cross and Red Crescent emblems. 

Similarly, nothing can justify killing innocent civilians caught in the crossfire of a conflict not of their making. The ongoing hostilities and their intensification, witnessed again on 8 June, hinder a dignified humanitarian response that addresses physical and mental needs. The IFRC network, is ready to scale up our response, but hostilities must cease.

Moreover, nothing can justify abduction and hostage-taking of innocent people. Such acts inflict deep psychological scars and violate basic human decency and international humanitarian law. Hostages must be released immediately and unconditionally. 

Perhaps most distressing is the indifference that allows such suffering to continue before our very eyes. We witness the anguish of loss, the desperation for necessities, and the hopelessness of unending violence. 

Humanitarian assistance alone is not a solution to this crisis. I urge this assembly to intensify all diplomatic efforts to bring this conflict to an end and secure, safe, unconditional and unhindered humanitarian access to Gaza. We must not allow indifference to erode our shared humanity.

The people of Gaza deserve more than our sympathy—they deserve our action. 

Thank you.