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NGOs Call For Emergency Visas For Palestinians With NZ Family Links Trapped In Gaza

Save the Children has joined more than 30 other NGOs, community organisations, and church groups calling on the New Zealand Government to grant emergency humanitarian visas to Palestinians in Gaza who have family members in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The group has this week sent an open letter addressed to PM Christopher Luxon, Minister of Immigration Erica Stanford, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters stating the situation is urgent, with more than 1.7 million people displaced and facing a rapidly worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

"With no ceasefire in sight, children and families in Gaza are desperate," says Save the Children New Zealand Advocacy Director Jacqui Southey.

"Five months of violence, displacement, starvation and disease have caused relentless mental harm to children in Gaza, with parents and caregivers telling us that imagining a future without war has virtually disappeared.

"An emergency humanitarian visa would provide a lifeline to these families - and a tangible way that New Zealand can help at least some children and families trapped in the violence. Alongside our partners, we are urging the New Zealand Government to grant these visas just as they have done for Ukrainian and Afghan families in the past."

More than 30,717 people, including 12,550 children, have been killed since Israel’s military escalation in Gaza that started on 7 October- in retaliation to attacks on Israel killing 1200 people, including 33 children and taking more than 240 hostages, according to the Government of Israel.

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Lack of food and clean water is also creating a catastrophic hunger crisis, children are now dying from starvation and nearly every child in Gaza at risk of famine.

The open letter follows the calls from our Palestinian community in New Zealand for these visas, and lists the devastating human toll of the situation in Gaza, as well as the severe and rapidly deteriorating humanitarian crisis, as reasons for the Government to facilitate the evacuation of these family members immediately.

The open letter highlights New Zealand’s humanitarian response to Ukrainian and Afghan families as a precedent for creating resettlement pathways for Palestinian families in Gaza, and calls for diplomatic assistance to facilitate their evacuation as well as robust resettlement support once in New Zealand.

The open letter is supported by:

  • Palestinian Youth Aotearoa
  • Justice for Palestine
  • Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa
  • World Vision NZ
  • Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand
  • TearFund NZ
  • Save the Children NZ
  • Greenpeace Aotearoa
  • Christian World Service
  • ActionStation
  • HOST International Aotearoa New Zealand
  • The Refugee Alliance
  • ChangeMakers Resettlement Forum
  • JustCommunity
  • Asylum Seeker Support Trust
  • Sakinah Community Trust
  • Sh’ma Koleinu | Alternative Jewish Voices
  • Aotearoa Christians for Peace in Palestine
  • Sudanese Society in New Zealand
  • UNESCO Chair on Dance and Social Inclusion, University of Auckland
  • Waikato Arab Social Club
  • New Zealand Arab Association
  • UnionAID
  • Migrant Action Trust
  • Mahi Mihinare | Anglican Action
  • Anglican Advocacy
  • Common Grace Aotearoa
  • Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Dayenu: New Zealand Jews Against Occupation
  • English Language Partners NZ
  • Centre for Asia Pacific Refugee Studies, University of Auckland
  • National Tertiary Network to Support Refugee Background Students
  • Te Ao o Rongomaraeroa | National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Otago
  • Kā Rakahau o Te Ao Tūroa | Centre for Sustainability, University of Otago

Save the Children is calling for an immediate, definitive ceasefire to save and protect the lives of children in Gaza and effective implementation of the provisional measures from the ICJ, and has called on the Government of Israel to allow the unfettered flow of aid and the resumption of entry of commercial goods into Gaza to prevent children from dying of starvation and disease.

Save the Children is also calling for all donor governments and the rest of the international community to resume and scale up funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) on which the aid response in Gaza depends as quickly as possible.

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