23 October 2023
We are horrified by the escalating violence and the unacceptable targeting of civilians in Gaza and Israel. Our thoughts are with everyone affected and those who have lost loved ones and who are worried about friends and family.
As UN independent experts state “There is no justification for violence that indiscriminately targets innocent civilians, whether by Hamas or Israeli forces. This is absolutely prohibited under international law and amounts to a war crime.”
STAR is all about creating a welcome in the UK for people who are forcibly displaced and need a place of safety to rebuild their lives. This includes ensuring that people are provided with the safe routes they need to get here. We called for safe routes for people caught up in violence when Russia invaded Ukraine, when the Taliban took over Afghanistan, and when civil war broke out in Sudan. Now we call for safe routes once again.
No one should be forcibly displaced from their home, something which is against international law. However, people who feel they have no choice but to leave their country need access to safety.
Gaza is a densely populated area, only 25 miles long, with a civilian population of 2.2 million people. Almost half of whom are children and 7 in 10 of whom are already refugees. Since 2007, Gaza has been subject to a strict land and sea blockade by Israel that prevents civilians and vital necessities such as food and medicine from easily moving across the border. Before the current crisis the World Food Programme estimated that more than 60% of Gaza’s population faced food insecurity. The recent escalation of the blockade of Gaza, which cut off supplies of power, water and food, and the continual bombing campaign by Israel is causing an extreme humanitarian crisis. There is nowhere safe for people to go in Gaza to escape the violence, and they can’t leave as the borders to neighbouring countries are closed.
We call on the UK government to open up safe routes to the UK for those who need them and implement an urgent family reunion scheme.
We also continue our call for a fair and humane asylum system in the UK which upholds the right to asylum no matter how someone travels here, with safe routes in place that provide refugees, no matter where they come from, with a means of seeking safety in the UK.
We also added our name to the call led by the Refugee Council asking emergency safe passage for people impacted by the violence in Israel and Palestine.
For further background information on conflict, you can have a look at United Nation website.