Spotlighting Gaza during the 10th Meeting of the Subcommittee for the Eradication of Hunger at the League of Arab States

APN | Cairo – Zoom

10 December 2023


At the 10th session of the Subcommittee for the Eradication of Hunger in the Arab Region, emanating from the Department of Sustainable Development and International Cooperation within the League of Arab States (LAS), participants approved the proposal put forth by APN Chairperson, Razan Zuayter, to include a dedicated agenda item on Gaza.

In her intervention, Zuayter underscored that the genocide in Gaza, coupled with the use of starvation and food as weapons, constitutes a focal point in the committee's mandate. She highlighted the severity of the food crisis in the Gaza Strip preceding 7 October 2023, attributing it to a systematic Israeli strategy aimed at inducing starvation by restricting the caloric intake allowed into the region, except for contaminated water. This tactic has led to food insecurity affecting over 64% of Gaza's population, a situation that leads to the recent announcement by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), declaring that no one in Gaza is currently food secure.

She highlighted the decisions made by the governments of Arab countries in various international and regional forums, specifically stressing the items outlined in the concluding statement of the extraordinary joint Arab-Islamic summit held in Riyadh in November 2023. The summit called for lifting the blockade on Gaza and the immediate entry of Arab, Islamic, and international humanitarian aid convoys—comprising food, medicine, and fuel—into Gaza. Furthermore, she pointed to the resolutions of the Algiers summit in 2022, emphasizing the necessity to contribute to supporting Arab countries facing political, security, and economic challenges or exceptional situations due to natural disasters. This support involves mobilizing available resources through diverse bilateral, Arab, regional, and international channels.

Zuayter referenced the 34th session of the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for the Environment, which convened in the Sultanate of Oman on 26 October 2023. During this session, the ministers issued a call to the international community, including environmental and health institutions, urging immediate action in response to the ongoing genocide and forced displacement in Gaza. She also noted the joint statement from the second session of the Arab Forum for Environment (AFEN) during the same timeframe. AFEN commended LAS for affirming the importance of reinforcing collective Arab action alongside the State of Palestine in its rightful defense against aggression. Moreover, AFEN condemned Zionist crimes impacting people, land, water, and air, advocating for the application of international humanitarian law, human rights, and environmental principles. AFEN emphasized LAS’s role in implementing measures to mitigate risks, commended its prompt assistance and reovery efforts, and called on LAS to commemorate the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict. This observance aims to promote a culture of environmental protection and awareness, conducting assessments of the environmental impact of such conflicts on the Arab region.

Additionally, she referenced the speech delivered by APN's representative in the Arab Network for Food Sovereignty during the meeting of the Committee on World Food Security in Rome in November 2023. This committee, recognized as the highest committee on global food security, experienced a one-month postponement of its proceedings after the United States deferred its work following a proposal submitted by Egypt concerning Gaza.

Zuayter addressed the letter sent by APN to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres through the Regional and Country Office of the United Nations. The letter, representing over 115 Arab and international organizations, raised concerns about the breach of neutrality and morality by Cindy McCain, the Executive Director of the World Food Program (WFP). It highlighted the perceived conflict between her personal interests and the interests of the United Nations. This concern arose when she participated in a security conference that presented its annual award, named after her late husband, to an Israeli organization supporting the militarization of the army, security forces, and settlers in Palestine.

At the end of the meeting, she recommended to issue a statement on behalf of the committee on the war of starvation on Gaza. This statement should emphasize the importance of actively implementing resolutions from LAS, utilizing all available means, including economic measures, to stop the genocide and the weaponization of food. Additionally, she suggested exerting pressure on international organizations to take a leading role in these efforts. Furthermore, she emphasized the necessity of focusing on the rehabilitation of the agricultural sector, as the sustenance of the people is derived from what they cultivate.