Gaza humanitarian crisis – Government urged to take action

Gaza humanitarian crisis

Three major Catholic aid agencies are urging Australia, Canada and New Zealand’s leaders to take immediate diplomatic action over the “catastrophic” humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip

The agencies working in the area are warning that starvation and famine threaten hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians.

Catastrophic conditions in Gaza

In a joint statement, the Caritas agencies of the three countries say the situation in Gaza is rapidly worsening. Over 31,300 people have been killed and 73,100 injured in the conflict so far.

“Starvation has become a very real danger.

“Already 27 people, including 23 children, have died of malnutrition and about half a million people are facing catastrophic levels of food insecurity” the Caritas agencies say.

Pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need adds urgency and strength to Caritas’s alarm.

The people “are closer than ever to the crucified Saviour” stresses Aid to the Church in Need.

In its most recent report it says the Christian community in Gaza “is going through the worst period” since the start of the war on 7 October 2023.

Sr Nabila Saleh of the Holy Family parish in Al Zeyton calls the situation distressing.

The church is currently sheltering 128 families — a total of 512 Christians, Catholics and Orthodox. Among the families are 120 children under the age of 18. Sixty people have disabilities. There are also 84 elderly people.

Demands for humanitarian access

The Caritas groups are urging “all diplomatic, political, legal and economic means possible” to establish guaranteed humanitarian corridors into Gaza. These corridors are vital links as they ensure safe passage for food, water and other supplies.

Caritas has rejected proposals for airdrops or maritime deliveries as “undignified” and “neither viable nor sustainable”.

“A single truck can deliver up to 10 times as much aid as an airdrop” its statement says.

It then quotes the World Food Programme’s deputy executive director, saying “Airdrops are a last resort and will not avert famine. We need entry points to northern Gaza”.

Australia urged to follow Canada and New Zealand

The agencies have called on Australia to restore funding to UNRWA, the UN agency aiding Palestinian refugees. This would put it in line with Canadian and New Zealand policies.

“As the people of Gaza mark the holy periods of Lent and Ramadan, we call on our prime ministers to act on their conviction ‘that a sustainable ceasefire is necessary to finding a path towards securing lasting peace for Israelis and Palestinians’,” they say.

Ceasefire and Prisoner Release Demanded

Among other urgent demands, the Caritas agencies called for an immediate and permanent ceasefire by all parties, They are also calling for all hostages and people whom Hamas and Israeli authorities have arbitrarily detained to be released.

The joint statement from the aid agencies followed grave warnings last month by the prime ministers of Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

These warnings focused on indications Israel was planning a ground offensive into Rafah, which they said would be “catastrophic”.

A month on, the Catholic aid agencies say they are “disturbed to note that Israel is not heeding their call to ‘listen to the international community'”.


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News category: New Zealand, Top Story.

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