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Red Cross expresses concern over Gaza situation

Wednesday January 14, 2009

Australian Red Cross joins the rest of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in expressing concern over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and urges all parties to fulfill their obligations under International Humanitarian Law.

In particular Australian Red Cross advocates strongly on the need to provide protection to humanitarian workers and to ensure that the wounded are cared for.

Earlier today the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) issued a joint statement deploring the fact that many wounded people have been abandoned and left to suffer alone, unable to reach hospitals and inaccessible to ambulances and medical workers. Some wounded have died because ambulances did not receive the required clearances to reach them in time.

They called on involved parties to remove restrictions on medical teams so they can do their life-saving work and reaffirmed that under International Humanitarian Law all parties concerned have a duty to collect, care for and evacuate the wounded, without delay or discrimination.

'Australian Red Cross has always been a strong advocate for International Humanitarian Law' said Robert Tickner, CEO, 'and we continue to work promoting the values of International Humanitarian Law across the country both through public dissemination sessions and separately with Australian Defence Force.'

'We are proud to be part of the world's largest humantiarian organisation, actively engaged in alleviating suffering for all parties in this conflict,' he continued.

Mr Tickner said Australian Red Cross also strongly supported calls for a cessation to hostilities and all efforts to broker a peaceful solution to the Gaza crisis. He said the president of the ICRC Mr Jakob Kellenberger was currently in Israel meeting with senior figures on all sides.

Australian Red Cross has launched an appeal to help those affected by the current conflict in the Middle East. Money raised will go to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) which is working with our sister societies in the region to provide assistance to victims on both sides of the conflict.

We currently have one aid worker in the Red Cross office in Jerusalem and are on standby to send more staff should the International Red Cross ask us to do so.