ASEAN, Australia Call for Ceasefire in Gaza

Wed Mar 06 2024
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MELBOURNE: Southeast Asian and Australian leaders have called for a quick and permanent truce in Gaza, describing the humanitarian situation in the Strip as “dire”.

After a three-day summit in Melbourne, they issued a joint statement on Wednesday, urging for an immediate and lasting ceasefire in Gaza. The statement, signed by leaders from 11 nations including Muslim-majority Indonesia and Malaysia, described the humanitarian situation in Gaza as “dire.”

The deteriorating situation in Gaza was a key topic of discussion among leaders from the 10-nation ASEAN bloc and Australia. With the Muslim holy month of Ramadan approaching, efforts to secure a ceasefire have intensified, with the United States and other nations actively involved in diplomatic initiatives.

The joint statement condemned attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure in Gaza, emphasizing the exacerbation of the humanitarian crisis, including restricted access to food, water, and other basic necessities.

ASEAN and Australia called for rapid, safe, unimpeded, and sustained humanitarian access to all those in need, stressing the importance of increased capacity at border crossings, including by sea.

The collective call for a ceasefire underscores the regional and international concern for the escalating violence and suffering in Gaza, emphasizing the urgent need for peace and humanitarian relief in the region.

Earlier, the World Health Organization said that an estimated 8,000 Palestinian patients urgently require evacuation from the Gaza Strip amid relentless Israeli bombardment. The organization expressed frustration over the slow progress in transferring patients out of the besieged Palestinian territory, emphasizing the critical need to relieve the strain on overwhelmed medical facilities.

Rik Peeperkorn, the WHO representative in the Palestinian territories, highlighted the severity of the situation during a press briefing in Geneva. He stated that among the patients in need, approximately 6,000 are suffering from injuries related to the ongoing Israeli attacks, including trauma injuries, burns, and amputations. Additionally, 2,000 patients require evacuation for non-conflict-related medical conditions.

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