04 Dec 2023Features
SSI statement: Ceasefire in Gaza must be prioritised to protect civilians
We are joining with voices from across the humanitarian sector to call for an ongoing ceasefire in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories in order to prioritise the safety and security of civilians and displaced people.
We are deeply concerned by the loss of civilian lives following the end to the recent humanitarian pause and call for all parties to comply with their obligations under international law, notably regarding the protection of civilians, especially children.
Approximately 1,200 Israelis were killed in the initial Hamas terrorist attack, while the death toll in Gaza has now surpassed 15,500, of which 70 per cent have been women and children.
We are particularly concerned to have seen refugee camps bombed on a number of occasions, according to Amnesty International, with medical facilities and UN facilities also being targeted. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has also reported the highest number of United Nations aid workers killed in a conflict in the history of the international body.
We stand with communities both here and abroad who are suffering and feeling helpless in the face of this escalating violence. SSI has close ties to these diaspora groups through our staff and wider networks, and we remain committed to offering our support to our diverse communities. Our thoughts are with all of those who are hurt and who are grieving.
We urge all levels of government to act to support individuals and families fleeing this crisis, and to that end, we welcome the Federal Government’s announcement that more than 800 Palestinians and 1793 Israelis have been granted temporary visas.
We are working with partners within the sector and dedicating our own resources to ensure new arrivals are adequately supported. We are offering emergency support to meet the essential needs of new arrivals, while also ensuring they feel welcomed in Australia and that their sponsors have adequate support.
We are looking to activate support services using our own resources, while also engaging with government, corporate Australia and our community networks to ensure we can be a welcoming host community to those arriving who have experienced profound trauma and loss.
We reiterate the need for a peaceful, humane resolution that prioritises the lives and safety of civilians.
We remain steadfast in our commitment to supporting communities here and abroad to reduce division, strengthen social cohesion and remember our shared humanity.