Statement from Refugees International:
“As a ground invasion of Gaza appears imminent, Refugees International is alarmed by the devastating humanitarian crisis in the territory, which is being driven by persistent disregard for the laws of war on all sides. There is no way to even begin addressing the catastrophic humanitarian needs in Gaza as long as this fighting continues. A ground invasion would be cataclysmic, particularly if the belligerents continue their utter disregard for their civilian protection obligations under international law. Refugees International calls for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza, including a halt to rocket attacks into Israel; the release of all hostages; and a halt to unlawful siege tactics that are destroying civilian lives.
We reiterate our condemnation of war crimes on all sides, and say again that unlawful behavior by one side does not legitimize unlawful behavior in response.
The Israeli military’s actions following the horrific October 7 attacks have consistently violated international law by imposing collective punishment and siege tactics upon civilians, failing to distinguish between civilian and military targets, and disproportionately harming civilians. A ground operation conducted in the same fashion would dramatically expand the harm to Gaza’s civilian population.
For its part, Hamas continues to fuel the conflict by launching rockets into Israel and continuing to hold the hostages – including women, children and the elderly – seized during their terror attacks in southern Israel. Their actions as well constitute war crimes. We reiterate our unequivocal condemnation of the October 7 attacks and call for the immediate release of the hostages.
The safety of civilians is paramount. A conflict in which both sides employ routine law-of-war violations with total impunity is not a conflict that can be allowed to continue. We call upon the United States, the European Union, Arab states, and UN agencies to push the parties to de-escalate and agree to an immediate humanitarian cease-fire. Potential war crimes on all sides should be investigated rapidly through an independent monitoring mechanism.
While we welcome the passage of 35 aid trucks into Gaza over the weekend, we emphasize that aid on its own can not be an adequate response to the humanitarian crisis if these unlawful practices are allowed to continue. No amount of relief aid can offset the besiegement and indiscriminate bombing of 2.2 million people.
As long as fighting continues, the large-scale distribution of aid will remain unsafe and infeasible. Refugees International urges international partners to focus humanitarian diplomacy not just on one-off aid deliveries but more importantly on protecting humanitarian action and halting practices that willfully inflict wholesale human suffering on a civilian population. Only through a humanitarian cease-fire can relief aid begin to catch up to the massive and disproportionate harm being inflicted on civilians in Gaza.
We call for:
- Negotiation of an immediate humanitarian cease-fire, including the release of hostages, a lifting of siege tactics, and a cessation of rocket attacks into Israel.
- The deployment and protection of consistent, large-scale relief aid into Gaza through credible relief organizations, in line with international law.
- Large-scale donor funding to address humanitarian needs.
- Credible independent investigation of unlawful acts by all belligerent parties.”
For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Refugees International Media and Communications Manager Etant Dupain at firstname.lastname@example.org.