Oxfam International calls for urgent action on the worsening humanitarian crisis in the Middle East

Published: 19 July 2006

Oxfam International calls for urgent action from armed groups and the government of Israel to cease all military attacks. These attacks have resulted in the deaths and suffering of ordinary civilians on all sides of the conflict, and have led to a growing humanitarian crisis in Lebanon and Gaza and increasing insecurity in Israel. All parties, together with the international community, must take immediate responsibility for upholding international humanitarian law and for intervening to ensure that civilians are protected from violence.

Today, Oxfam partners and staff are witnessing and responding to the growing humanitarian crisis in the region. Oxfam estimates that over 40,000 people are displaced in Beirut alone. ICRC reports total displacements of 500,000 people in Lebanon. Over 200 people have been killed to date, most of whom are women and children. At the same time Israeli citizens are being subjected to rocket attacks which have killed 12 civilians and wounded many others.

While any state has the right to defend itself against armed attacks, Israel's destruction of civilian infrastructure including bridges, roads and the airport in Beirut is unacceptable. It has resulted in civilians being killed, has prevented them from fleeing conflict areas, and hinders humanitarian access. All parties to the conflict must recognize their obligations under the Geneva Conventions to distinguish between civilians and combatants and to refrain from attacks that harm the civilian population.

While attention has focused on the deteriorating situation in Lebanon and Israel, the world must not lose sight of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza which continues to intensify by the hour. More than 90 Palestinians have been killed and 240 wounded since the 28th of June. Most of Gaza is without a supply of mains electricity. Tens of thousands of families are struggling to survive without access to food, water and medical care due to Israeli military action and the continued closure of Gaza to the two-way traffic of goods and people.

Oxfam urges all parties to immediately cease hostilities in order to protect civilians and avoid an escalating crisis that could engulf the entire region.

Contact Information

For more information, please contact:

Shaista Aziz on +44 (0)1865 473152 / +44 (0)7810 814980
saziz@oxfam.org.uk

Or:
Ian Bray on +44 (0)1865 472289 / +44 (0)7721 461339
ibray@oxfam.org.uk