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Australian Red Cross Launches Mid East Appeal

Wednesday January 7, 2009

Australian Red Cross is today launching an appeal to support thousands of people affected by the conflict in the Middle East.

The Acting CEO of Australian Red Cross, Mr John O'Connor said money raised by the appeal would go to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) which was working with our sister societies in the region to provide assistance to victims on both sides of the confllict.

'The first priority must be to help those injured or displaced by the fighting', he said.

The situation in Gaza is becoming increasingly chaotic and extremely dangerous. It is difficult for the ICRC and Palestinian Red Crescent to move around and assess the urgent humanitarian needs created by the continued shelling and bombing, and by fighting on the ground. The firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel has also caused suffering among the civilian population there.

The ICRC's war-surgery team, consisting of two doctors and two nurses, has entered Gaza today, and will help surgeons to treat complicated injuries. There are now 13 expatriate and 65 national ICRC staff in Gaza.

The ICRC continues to coordinate safe passage for Palestine Red Crescent ambulances and for technicians attempting to repair essential services such as the power lines that provide electricity from Israel to Gaza.

The ICRC has brought new supplies of blood and 1,000 doses of tetanus toxoid vaccines into Gaza. Hospitals had completely run out of these vaccines, which are potentially lifesaving for patients with dirty wounds or needing an operation.

Palestine Red Crescent ambulances are assisting casualties and transporting the deceased, while Israel's Magen David Adom, continues to provide humanitarian support for people living in southern Israel, which is under daily rocket attack.

'As we watch the escalating violence, we share the ICRC's concerns over the consequences that military action is having on the civilian population', Mr O'Connor said.

'Red Cross calls for all parties to respect international humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions which require a clear distinction between military objectives and the civilian population.'

'All parties are obliged to take all feasible precautions to spare the civilian population from the effects of hostilities. Medical facilities and personnel must also be protected', Mr O'Connor said.

For more information or to make a secure online donation:

Visit the online donations page

Call: 1800 811 700 toll free, or

Send a cheque: to GPO Box 9949 marked 'Middle East Humanitarian Appeal 2009' in your capital city.

Donations to the Middle East Humanitarian Appeal 2009 will:

  • Support the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) provide emergency assistance on behalf of the victims of armed conflict

  • Support internally displaced people, the wounded, sick and other vulnerable people and medical and ambulance services

  • Send specialist aid workers to assist the Red Cross response.

NOTE: Australian Red Cross will not deduct more than 10% of any donation for an international appeal to cover appeal costs. Should the funds raised exceed the amount required to meet the immediate and longer-term needs of the people in the affected areas, Australian Red Cross will use any excess funds to help people affected by emergencies within the same region of the world.