Singapore supports immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, release of hostages, says minister at G-20 meet

The situation in Gaza is “distressing”, Dr Maliki Osman noted at the G-20 foreign ministers' meeting. - PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE (The Straits Time/ANN): Singapore supports an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip to facilitate the urgent delivery of aid to affected civilians and calls for the safe, immediate and unconditional release of all civilian hostages, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Dr Maliki Osman.

Dr Maliki, who is also Second Minister for Foreign Affairs, reiterated Singapore’s stance on the ongoing conflict at the Group of 20 (G-20) foreign ministers’ meeting on Feb 21 and 22 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and noted that the situation in Gaza is “distressing”.

Israel has intensified air strikes in Rafah, the southern city in Gaza along the Egypt border where about 1.4 million Palestinians have sought refuge.

The territory’s escalating death toll, estimated by the Gaza health authorities to be nearly 30,000 people, has sparked increased international concern, with truce talks under way.

There have been international pleas for restraint, including from Israel’s main ally, the United States, with Brazil being the latest to criticise Israel’s actions in Gaza.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Feb 15 after meeting his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi that Brazil had condemned the Hamas attack on Israeli civilians on Oct 7, but Israel’s response was “disproportional and indiscriminate”, and unacceptable.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira, whose country kicked off its presidency of the G-20 with the foreign ministers’ meeting, said the leaders in attendance were nearly unanimous in their support for a two-state solution as the only path to peace in the conflict.

Dr Maliki noted that the current geopolitical landscape is “very worrying”, and said Singapore is similarly troubled by the spreading tensions in the Middle East.

He added that international merchant shipping in the Red Sea has been disrupted by the Houthis’ unlawful attacks, and stressed that key sea lines of communications like it must remain open and secure.

Dr Maliki said that under Brazil’s leadership, members of the G-20, a grouping which includes many of the world’s largest economies, need to collectively support and work towards de-escalating tensions around the world, and to avoid a return to the Cold War, where the world was split and countries were pitted against one another.

“Having an open, inclusive and rules-based international order is vital to tackling the challenges facing us today.”

Two big areas that require stronger multilateral cooperation than before are the issue of hunger and poverty in developing countries and climate change, he added.

Calling for the international community and G-20 to do more in encouraging investments in education, housing and healthcare, as well as creating jobs, Dr Maliki said doing so will increase the social mobility of populations so that the next generation will have a brighter future.

On climate change, he pointed out Singapore’s commitment to mobilise up to US$5 billion (S$6.7 billion) from commercial and concessional capital to power its transition to cleaner fuels.

Singapore will continue to contribute to capacity building in developing countries on this front, both bilaterally and in collaboration with third countries, he said.

He also highlighted the importance of taking into account the voices and concerns of smaller countries, in particular developing countries, to ensure global governance institutions remain relevant.

Singapore is the coordinator of three groups – the Forum of Small States, the Global Governance Group and the recently established Small States Group – which provide small states with a platform to contribute views and inputs to international organisations such as the G-20 and the United Nations.

He also noted that Brazil’s presidency of the G-20 lays the groundwork for its hosting of the UN’s COP30 climate summit in 2025.

“Singapore will do its part to contribute to the G-20’s important work, especially in assisting developing countries to achieve our sustainable development goals,” Dr Maliki said. - The Straits Times/ANN

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