Aid agencies say Blair must call for immediate Middle East ceasefire
British Prime Minister Tony Blair must reverse his current policy and urgently call for an immediate ceasefire by all sides in the current Middle East crisis, said a group of both secular and religious UK aid agencies yesterday (21 July 2006) They all work in the region.
The plea came as Israel continued its air strikes and small-scale incursions into Lebanon, and as troops and tanks gathered on the border between the two countries.
Christian Aid, Save the Children, Oxfam, Islamic Relief, CAFOD, World Vision
and CARE International UK have come together as the situation in the Middle East continues to deteriorate and Prime Ministerís policy seems increasingly at odds with the rest of the international community.
So far the British government is one of only a handful of governments, including the United States, who has yet to back calls for a ceasefire.
ìThe situation on the ground is grim and getting worse. All sides need to stop fighting now if we are to pull this situation back from the brink and protect civilians,î declared Janet Symes, Christian Aidís regional manager for the Middle East, speaking on behalf of the group.
'She said: ìThe Prime Minister has in the past provided admirable leadership on humanitarian crises, we canít understand why he has got this one so horribly wrong. We urge him to rethink and urgently.î
According to the UK aid agencies the continued attacks are not only causing widespread suffering, the targeting of civilian infrastructure is making the aid operation much harder.
ìCivilians are the main victims of this and a ceasefire would be in all their interests. While British civilians may have been lucky enough to escape, millions of people just like them but without a British passport are left in the region to suffer,î said Geoffrey Dennis, chief executive of CARE International UK, also on behalf if the whole group.
He emphasised that ìall sides must guarantee humanitarian access to all those left behind, so that help reaches those in urgent need of assistance.î
[Also on Ekklesia: WCC urges churches to support Middle East appeals 21/07/06; Churches redouble efforts and prayers for an end to Middle East hostilities 21/07/06; Williams laments Lebanon vicious spiral of violence 20/07/06; Gaza, Israel and Lebanon crises are imperilling Middle East security 19/07/06; Historic Galilee sites hit by rocket attacks 18/07/06; Pope condemns Lebanon raids as G8 converges and Blair blames Iran and Syria 17/07/06; Christians call for end to Lebanon violence as Israel vows revenge 16/07/06; Middle East Christians in anguish over Lebanon violence 14/07/06; Embattled Hezbollah backs Iraq 'doves of peace'; Christian warnings substantiated as Israel targets Hamas; Ex-spy wages peace on terror in the Middle East; UK church and aid agencies concerned over Gaza situation]