The humanitarian situation in Gaza “is continuing to deteriorate”, Cyprus’ ambassador to the United Nations Maria Michael said on Wednesday night.

Speaking to the UN Security Council’s annual open debate on protecting civilians in armed conflicts, she focused on the matter of displaced persons, pointing out that a total of 110 million worldwide are currently displaced by conflict and natural disasters.

“Situations of prolonged displacement are of great concern, and we firmly believe that the Security Council can take stronger measures to ensure the right of return as soon as possible,” she said.

She added that the Security Council should also ensure respect for displaced persons’ rights to their property and uphold international law in relation to the illegal settlement of new populations in areas where native populations have been forcibly removed.

“Cypriots experienced all of the above as a result of foreign aggression, and therefore have firsthand knowledge and understanding of the deep disruption these phenomena have on the lives of citizens,” she said.

Additionally, she touched on the matter of missing persons, saying “families have the right to know the fate of their loved ones.”

The anguish experienced by family members [of missing persons] is profound and their suffering only becomes more intense with time,” she added.

She also made reference to the Amalthea plan, Cyprus’ maritime humanitarian aid corridor to Gaza.

“The maritime corridor is part of an ongoing effort to increase the flow of much-needed humanitarian aid to Gaza through all possible avenues,” she said.

Her statement came as efforts are continuing in Larnaca to collect aid and ship it onwards to Gaza, despite the fact that none of the aid sent from Cyprus to the temporary jetty constructed by the United States has yet been delivered to the broader Palestinian population.

This emerged as Pentagon spokesman Major General Pat Ryder had said on Wednesday that deliveries of the 569 tonnes of aid which has arrived so far will begin “very shortly”, adding that he “does not believe” any aid has yet been delivered to Palestinian civilians via the jetty.

He said the slow progress on the delivery of aid is being taken as his country is taking a “crawl, walk, run approach” to the rolling out of the jetty.

This is being done, he said, “to make sure that we are implementing this system in a way were we’re working out the processes and procedures, including taking into account the security conditions”.

The “security conditions” have been a hot topic of late, with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) on Wednesday warning that the jetty “may fail” if Israel does not improve conditions for humanitarian workers.