Thursday, January 08, 2009

Aid agencies call for suspension of enhanced EU-Israel agreements

A coalition of major humanitarian, human rights and development organisations called on the European Union today (January 7th) to immediately suspend any further enhancement of its relations with Israel, known as an ‘upgrade’, until it agrees to a comprehensive ceasefire and provides unimpeded humanitarian access. Both Israel’s offensive in Gaza and Hamas rocket attacks into Israel have caused unacceptable civilian casualties.

The call comes ahead of the informal meeting of EU ministers in Prague this Thursday. It follows Israel’s rejection of European attempts to secure an immediate ceasefire during a visit of the EU’s most senior representatives to the region on Monday 5 January.

“Israel has shunned diplomatic efforts by the EU and the delegation has returned empty-handed. The EU’s credibility is now at stake. It is inconceivable that we should extend further benefits of European partnership to a government that violates international humanitarian law and refuses negotiation in favour of continued violence. It is time for robust EU action to bring about an immediate ceasefire and end the violence on all sides,” said Daleep Mukarji, Director of Christian Aid UK and Ireland.

The coalition of organisations from over 10 European countries [1] - including Oxfam International, Cafod, Trocaire, World Vision and Muslim Aid - warns that the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, already dire following the 18-month blockade, has been pushed to crisis point by the current military conflict.

The appeal in full can be read here

[1] The coalition includes the following organisations:

Avaaz, Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), CAFOD (UK), CCFD (France), Christian Aid (UK and Republic of Ireland), Danish Church Aid (Denmark), Diakonia (Sweden), Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (Denmark), FIDH (France), medico international (Germany and Switzerland), Muslim Aid (UK), Oxfam International, Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (Denmark), Trócaire (Ireland), United Civilians for Peace (Netherlands), World Vision (UK).