The aid and humanitarian sector warmly welcomes Australia’s change of stance towards the crisis in Gaza, voting in favour of a ceasefire at the United Nations General Assembly earlier today (Wednesday).
The vote, coupled with the joint statement that Australia signed alongside New Zealand and Canada, shows that Australia is now moving to align with the majority of the world in articulating that a ceasefire is urgently needed, and the killings must stop. It also shows Australia’s willingness to champion international humanitarian law to protect civilians.
The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), the peak body for the aid and humanitarian sector, thanks the Government for altering its position.
“Australia’s support for a ceasefire is a stand for protecting civilians in Gaza,” said Marc Purcell, CEO of ACFID.
“We recognise the importance of Australia’s shift on this humanitarian catastrophe. This represents a clear-sighted view of our obligations, including the protection of civilians and the upholding of international humanitarian law. Australia has joined hands with New Zealand and Canada, and this move will not go unnoticed.
“Australia’s change in position speaks to the immense work that has been done behind the scenes by parliamentarians, advisors, bureaucrats and advocates, and we thank them for this,” said Mr Purcell.
“The loss of life suffered has been vastly disproportionate and indiscriminate, including by civilians, children and aid workers.”
The humanitarian sector deplores the immense loss of life in Gaza, with the death toll now at least 17,000, including almost 7,000 children. Thousands more children are missing under the rubble. Aid groups warn of a mental health crisis among Palestinian children.
Many Australian organisations are mourning the loss of life of their NGO colleagues and partners in Gaza. The sector grieves with the United Nations family, which has so far lost 135 of its workers. Hundreds of health workers have also died, some of them along with their families.
The focus must now shift to assisting the 2.4 million people who have been displaced, injured and harmed by the military assault by the State of Israel. Humanitarian groups and workers need unimpeded access.
ACFID calls on the Australian government to extend financial support to Australian INGOs and humanitarian agencies doing important work in Gaza to assist those in need – just as the Australian public has been doing.
Australia was one of 153 countries to vote in favour of an immediate ceasefire at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday morning (AEDT). There were 23 abstentions, while 10 voted against it, including the US. Australia abstained in a previous vote in October 2023.
A ceasefire would mean that military activity by all parties to the conflict must end and all hostages must be returned unequivocally, which is called for in the UN resolution.
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