Archive: View of one the many buildings destroyed by air strickes in Gaza City, February 2011 | © Xavier Bourgois / HI
Urgent plea to avert unprecedented humanitarian crisis amid looming Israeli land incursion into Gaza.
We are alarmed by Israel’s call for over a million Palestinians to leave northern Gaza in less than 24 hours. Israel must rescind this order immediately. Demands for the population in its entirety to relocate in such an immediate manner put at risk the lives of those forced to flee. The Government of Israel has not provided any assurances for their safety while in transit or for the safety of civilians remaining in the Gaza Strip as fighting continues.
Humanitarian agencies operating in Gaza are reporting an unfolding humanitarian crisis on an unprecedented scale. There are not adequate facilities to safely accommodate residents from northern Gaza, and their safety remains jeopardized as Israeli airstrikes persistently target central and southern Gaza.
A forced relocation without any guarantees of safety or return and without providing for the needs of the protected population, risks amounting to forcible transfer, which is a grave breach of international humanitarian law and codified as a war crime. Israel is bound by international law to ensure the protection of all persons there from harm, and ensure that they are adequately supplied, including by agreeing and facilitating, relief schemes.
The horrendous violence that has engulfed Gaza and Israel over the last week has already created unprecedented humanitarian need. As of 13 October 2023, 11:00 AM EST, more than 1,799 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, more than 1,300 people in Israel, including foreign nationals, and 45 Palestinians in the West Bank. Hundreds of children have been killed. Hundreds of thousands of children and families in Gaza have already been displaced. Entire neighborhoods have been destroyed and turned to rubble.
Yet recent developments indicate that the worst may still be to come. We, the undersigned leaders of some of the world’s largest humanitarian organizations call for the international community to unequivocally uphold international law and prioritize the protection of civilians to avert further suffering and loss of human life.
World leaders must:
Families who are unable or unwilling to leave their homes remain protected under international humanitarian law. There are many reasons why people cannot heed these warnings to leave areas, including ongoing hostilities, impassable roads, health needs, disabilities, and fear of permanent displacement. Many will have nowhere else to go.
We urge UN Secretary-General António Guterres and senior UN leadership to make an emergency visit to the oPt and Israel in an attempt to ensure respect for international law and demonstrate solidarity with affected persons and humanitarians.
We plead with world leaders and actors on the ground to prioritize the preservation of human life above all else. Anything less will forever be a stain on our collective conscience.
Olivier Longue - Chief Executive Officer, Action Against Hunger – Spain
Mattias Brunander - Secretary General, Diakonia
Manuel Patrouillard - Global Managing Director, Handicap International / Humanity & Inclusion
Joël Weiler - Chief Executive Officer, Médecins du Monde - France
Nicolás Dotta - Chief Executive Officer, Médecins du Monde - Spain
Morgane Rousseau - Chief Executive Officer, Médecins du Monde - Swiss
Tjada D’Oyen McKenna - Chief Executive Officer, Mercy Corps
Jan Egeland - Secretary General, Norwegian Refugee Council
Amitabh Behar - Executive Director, Oxfam International
Stephen Omollo - Chief Executive Officer, Plan International
Inger Ashing - Chief Executive Officer, Save the Children International
Rob Williams - Chief Executive Officer, War Child UK