Statement from Refugees International:
Refugees International welcomes the impending release of hostages held in Gaza and pause in hostilities to enable relief to Gaza’s civilians. We reiterate our call for a full mutual ceasefire and the release of all hostages, and reiterate that international humanitarian law explicitly prohibits hostage-taking, indiscriminate or disproportionate bombardment, and collective punishment of a civilian population. We are deeply disheartened that both sides in the current conflict are using law-of-war violations as leverage to seek concessions from each other. This dynamic simply underscores the urgency of bringing the conflict to a rapid conclusion. The Biden administration has a crucial window following the deal to use the momentum to push for a lasting ceasefire now.
Only a sustained ceasefire can enable the scale of aid delivery required. However, pauses can play a helpful (albeit inadequate) role until a ceasefire is secured. Refugees International calls on all stakeholders, specifically Egypt, the United States, and UN agencies, as well as the warring parties, to create the conditions for humanitarian organizations to take full operational advantage of the upcoming pause. As outlined in detail by Refugees International in our recent brief on the Gaza aid response, this will require:
- Regular humanitarian pauses, which are days rather than hours long;
- A functional humanitarian deconfliction mechanism, similar to what existed during the 2006 conflict in Lebanon;
- A major scaling back of Israel’s extensive prohibitions on “dual-use” aid supplies, which include basic items like tarpaulins, crucial water and sanitation materials, and tent poles;
- Shifting responsibility for inspection of aid imports from the Israeli government to a neutral actor like the UN, following precedents from Syria and Yemen;
- A significant scale-up of aid operations hubs in Egypt so backstop the aid pipeline into Gaza.