News, Press Releases

International humanitarian response needed to protect civilian populations in Israel and Gaza

Posted on 13 October 2023

The Council for International Development (CID) Aotearoa New Zealand, the peak body for the New Zealand international aid and humanitarian sector, is deeply concerned by recent developments in Israel and Gaza.

CID is calling for effective humanitarian response and the administration of life-saving assistance to civilians affected by the escalating violence in Gaza and Israel.

As advocates of peace and stability, the sector urges all New Zealand political parties to prioritise calling for peace and safety for all civilians, including humanitarian aid workers, and for all parties to support the principles of international humanitarian law (IHL) – in particular humanity, neutrality, independence and impartiality.

CID calls for the following actions:

  • The New Zealand Government should urgently raise with the Israeli Government the need to protect civilians trapped in Gaza, where approximately half the population are young children.
  • New Zealand should call for unimpeded access for humanitarian assistance, a humanitarian corridor and abstention from any actions that will exacerbate civilian suffering. This includes siege tactics that deny water, food, medicine, and electricity to the vulnerable population in Gaza.
  • There must be clear and consistent messaging from the New Zealand Government, Opposition, and other political parties on the importance of upholding the rules-based order, specifically calling on warring parties to adhere to international conventions on human rights and international humanitarian law (IHL) in protecting civilians.

On October 7, Israel was attacked by Hamas, and Israel has since retaliated with air strikes and the announcement of a total siege on the Gaza strip. Over half a million people are now displaced in Gaza, with many of those impacted being children. The Gaza Strip is just 345 square km, and is home to 2.2 million people who have no means of leaving.

UN Secretary General António Guterres has condemned the Hamas attacks on Israel, and called for a de-escalation of the conflict.

Guterres has called for urgent and effective aid to be delivered to affected populations. “Crucial life-saving supplies – including fuel, food and water – must be allowed into Gaza.  We need rapid and unimpeded humanitarian access now”, he says.

CID condemns any act of violence to a civilian population and urges all actors to prioritise the protection of Israeli, Palestinian and international civilians (non-combatants) and humanitarian aid workers according to humanitarian law and humanitarian principles.

Council for International Development Executive Director Peter Rudd says, “We call on all relevant authorities to grant access of live-saving humanitarian assistance, clean water, food and non-food items and safe shelters, to the civilian population in Gaza, which may include establishing humanitarian corridors.”

The New Zealand Government has a critical role to play as a member of the international community, and must use its voice and influence to call for the protection of civilians.

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Human Rights Humanitarian humanitarian response Aid Gaza Israel