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Foreign aid groups urge Australia to back International Court of Justice on Gaza war

The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) 2 mins read

Media release | Friday, 2 February 2024

A coalition of aid groups have written to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong urging them to publicly back an interim International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling that the state of Israel prevent possible acts of genocide in Gaza. 

The letter from peak body Australian Council For International Development – signed by organisations including Oxfam Australia, Plan International Australia, ActionAid Australia and Caritas Australia – also calls on the government to ensure Australia adheres to rules it is bound to under the Genocide Convention and Arms Trade Treaty.

“We are deeply concerned about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza being further perpetuated by the defunding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), including by Australia” ACFID CEO Marc Purcell said.

“The foreign aid community is also calling on the government to conduct due diligence to ensure it complies with the Arms Trade Treaty, by ensuring Australian defence exports are not being used to carry out severe human rights abuses.

“It is vital that Australia uses its voice and influence to publicly back the recent ICJ ruling in favour of emergency measures to stop the war. As previously stated by Minister Wong: ‘The International Court of Justice plays a critical role in upholding international law and the rules-based order’.

“We are urging the federal government to do everything possible to ensure an immediate end to the war between the state of Israel and Hamas to aid critical humanitarian access and reconstruction of the decimated enclave.” 

The letter calls for the unconditional release of hostages. It also urges the government to support new funding worth $100 million to Gaza and the West Bank, including for Australian non-government organisations on the ground. It also calls for a doubling of the Humanitarian Emergency Fund to $300m to accurately reflect the growing number and scale of disasters in Australia’s region and beyond.

“Palestinian civilians in Gaza are already facing starvation, famine and outbreaks of disease. Without the critical support of UNRWA, the appalling humanitarian situation will continue deteriorating,” Mr Purcell said.

“It is imperative the Australian government considers the allegations against a small number of the agency’s 13,000 employees in the context of the catastrophic consequences of withholding life saving aid to Palestinian civilians, including children.”

For more information, contact Georgie Moore on 0477 779 928

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