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Gaza reconstruction unlikely to succeed without lasting peace

Tuesday March 10, 2009

'The strong commitment of the international community including Australia to rebuilding Gaza can only succeed if concrete steps are taken to achieve lasting peace' the Chief Executive Officer of Australian Red Cross said in Ramulla today.

Speaking at the General Assembly of the Palestine Red Crescent, Robert Tickner welcomed the support given by the Australian Government for the reconstruction of Gaza through the Red Cross and through non-government organisations.

However Mr Tickner warned: 'this humanitarian work is unlikely to succeed unless it is accompanied by an honest and courageous peace process involving all states, political authorities and organised armed groups which can influence the situation'. This is also the view of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Mr Tickner said.

As Dr Kellenberger the President of the ICRC has said: 'how many more deaths, injuries and damaged lives are needed before everyone finally realises that there is no alternative to a credible and humanitarian peace process?'

Mr Tickner had hoped to visit Gaza where Australian Red Cross will be supporting a humanitarian aid project however such a visit was not possible under current circumstances.

'Clearly a humanitarian priority must be to end the isolation of Gaza by lifting restrictions on the movement of people and goods' Mr Tickner said.

As a further contribution to promoting International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in the region Mr Tickner has offered Australian Red Cross financial assistance for the Palestine Red Crescent and the ICRC to produce a 'Handbook for Parliamentarians' modelled on an earlier Australian initiative to promote respect for IHL.

'There is strong interest in the idea from the Palestine Red Crescent for the project and I hope it will be taken up by other countries in the region as parliamentarians from all political parties can play a crucial role promoting respect for international humanitarian law' Mr Tickner said.