October 25, 2023

Australian aid agencies issue an urgent plea for the Prime Minister to push for a de-escalation of the Gaza crisis and increased humanitarian relief during his official visit to Washington DC as death toll rises overnight

Leading Australian agencies responding to the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, including ActionAid, Act for Peace, Anglican Overseas Aid, Islamic Relief, Oxfam, and Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA are calling on Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to boldly speak out in favour of an immediate ceasefire and an end to the bombing of civilian and medical infrastructure to prevent further loss of civilian lives in Gaza.

The Australian Government, which has supported Israel’s right to defend itself, must use its influence to call for an immediate ceasefire, the protection of civilians and the delivery of adequate humanitarian assistance to meet the growing demands in Gaza.

Michelle Higelin, Executive Director, ActionAid Australia: “The humanitarian situation in Gaza is catastrophic with a growing death toll. With no ceasefire and inadequate provisions of aid crossing the border, more innocent lives will be lost. Millions of civilians are facing no guarantee of safety each and every day. One horror cannot justify another, we call on the Australian government to employ all available means to stop the bombing of innocent civilians, ensure a ceasefire is in place alongside a sustained, protected humanitarian corridor.”

“Hospitals in Gaza are running out of fuel. Al-Shifa Hospital, run by ActionAid partner Al Awda Health and Community Association (Awda), will run out of fuel in the next 24 hours. We have heard from our colleagues on the ground that children, patients, babies in incubators, pregnant women will lose their lives if fuel is not provided to hospitals in Gaza.”

Jo Knight, Chief Executive Officer, Anglican Overseas Aid: “The Ahli Hospital in Gaza has been a long-standing partner of the Australian community through Anglican Overseas Aid. Despite the recent rocket blast that killed and wounded hundreds of people, the devoted staff of the hospital partially reopened it two nights later and are providing critical care to those in need with dwindling supplies of medication, equipment, and fuel. We call for an immediate ceasefire, an end to the loss of civilian lives, and protection of medical infrastructure.”

Anthea Spinks, Director of Programs at Oxfam Australia: “Gaza faces a dire crisis—no power, scarce food, lack of clean drinking water and insufficient medical supplies. Oxfam staff are witnessing intolerable suffering for civilians who are cut off from vital services and aid amidst escalating violence. Civilians must not be targeted by any side – we need an immediate ceasefire so life-saving humanitarian aid can safely reach people most in need.”

Samir Bennegadi, Chief Executive Officer, Islamic Relief: “We call for an immediate ceasefire and for international law to be upheld. All parties have a duty to protect civilians from harm, avoid targeting civilian infrastructure such as hospitals and humanitarian facilities, and ensure that civilians have access to basic necessities such as water, food and power. At the moment that duty is clearly not being met.”

Kate Lee, Executive Officer, Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA: “Hundreds of thousands of lives can be saved if the governments of the world push for a ceasefire and move to protect all civilians. This is the message that the Prime Minister Albanese needs to take to President Biden and all allies urgently.”

“The starvation of 2.3 million children, women and men is happening now. The bombs have damaged 43% of homes in the Gaza Strip, and hundreds of thousands of people are displaced. The current situation is an affront to humanity. Our government must act to ensure a ceasefire”.

Agencies supporting this statement are urgently calling for an immediate ceasefire and a sustainable, protected humanitarian corridor to allow desperately needed aid, including fuel, into Gaza.  All organisations are responding to the unfolding humanitarian crisis either directly or through local partners in Gaza.

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