World YWCA calls for justice after Gaza War

Published: Wed 21 Jan 2009 09:41 AM
World YWCA calls for justice after Gaza War and for protection of women and children
Geneva. January 20, 2009 - As Israel and Hamas announce unilateral ceasefires respectively, the World YWCA joins millions of people and organisation in condemning the force and impact of Israel's attack on Gaza. World YWCA calls for real peace and security in the region that can only be achieved through a resolution of the root causes of the conflict. The war on Gaza has destroyed lives, properties and a real decent future for many ordinary citizens. The United Nation's special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories Richard Falk has called the attacks on Gaza "serious violations of the UN charter, the Geneva conventions, international law and international humanitarian law."
The World YWCA welcomes the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1860 that calls on Member States to support international efforts to alleviate the humanitarian and economic situation in Gaza. "Women often bear the brunt of conflict. As such, gender-responsive humanitarian actions must take into account the special needs of women and children," says Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, World YWCA General Secretary, "the borders into Gaza must be opened immediately to allow much needed aid." Preliminary reports indicate that tens of thousands of people in Gaza are now homeless as thousands of homes were destroyed; over half a million have had no access to water and basic needs during the three-week long war. The World YWCA particularly condemns the destruction of schools, UN facilities and hospitals that have left woman and children with nowhere to seek refuge.
"Addressing sexual and other forms of violence against women is crucial," Gumbonzvanda says and urges the United Nations to enforce UNSCR 1325 on women, peace and security, which calls on member states to put an end to impunity and prosecute those responsible for war crimes including those relating to sexual and other violence against women and girls.
Israel launched a military operation against Hamas-ruled Gaza strip on December 27 in retaliation to rocket fire by Hamas. The attacks on Gaza, the heaviest in decades, have had a huge toll on civilians. Latest reports indicate that over 1,300 people have died as a result of the attacks--including 300 children and 95 women--at least 4700 are injured. "It is very sad that this vicious circle of terror is continuing and to see our civilian population pay this heavy price," says Mira Rizek General Secretary of the YWCA of Palestine.
YWCAs around the world, including associations in Fiji, Peru, Jordan, Brazil, Guyana, Japan, Denmark and Norway, held candlelight vigils on January 8 to commemorate the lives lost in the Gaza War and to call for peace.
The World YWCA condemned the Gaza blockade implemented in 2007 and has repeatedly called for peace and an end to military aggression and violence in the Middle East. The blockade persisted through 2008 and consisted mainly of water, food and medication shortages, harshly weakening civilians, among them many women and children. This latest military attack has escalated the humanitarian situation in Gaza by hitting an already powerless population. The situation is now deplorable and violates the human rights of Palestinians in Gaza. Urgent action must be taken to bring peace with justice to the Middle East.
The World YWCA is a global network of women and young women leading social and economic change in 125 countries. It advocates for peace, justice, human rights and care of the environment, and has been at the forefront of raising the status of women for over a century.

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