Statement from the Asylum Seekers Centre on the UN resolution for a humanitarian ceasefire

December 15, 2023

We welcome the Australian government’s decision to join 152 other nations in voting in favour of a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages at the United Nations General Assembly.

This is a necessary, if overdue, development which must now lead to immediate action to end the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

The impacts of this conflict have shocked and horrified us all. It has taken innocent lives, forced citizens from their homes, and tested community cohesion here in Australia as well as around the world.

These impacts do not end with a ceasefire. They leave lasting physical and psychological scars. The international community, Australian government, and our sector must all accept responsibility for providing the support and care needed.

For 30 years, we have worked tirelessly to support people seeking asylum in New South Wales. We have seen the impacts of violent conflict first-hand, and have supported thousands of people from every religion, region, and background with the dignity, support, and care that is their right. It is in our DNA to stand with all displaced people, and victims of persecution and terror.

The Asylum Seekers Centre condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the actions of Hamas in the killing, wounding, and taking hostage of innocent Israeli citizens, and the actions of the Israeli government in killing and wounding innocent Palestinian citizens, including attacks on refugee camps, and actions that according to United Nations relief agencies have left 90 per cent of Gaza’s population internally displaced.

We also once again back the call from the Refugee Council of Australia for the Australian government to work with international partners to ensure, in addition to a ceasefire:

  • Protection of civilians on all sides;
  • Quick, safe return of the remaining hostages;
  • Humanitarian access; and
  • Renewed efforts towards a long-term diplomatic solution.

The Asylum Seekers Centre has always worked to create, maintain, and enhance community safety and cohesion, which we see as being instrumental to this country’s ability to welcome and support people seeking asylum. We strongly condemn all forms of antisemitism, anti-Palestinian racism, and Islamophobia. We once again call on the Australian government and the public to do the same. We must find enough common ground to deal with this humanitarian crisis.

We are guided by those with lived experience, one of whom has summarised the situation as follows:

“As someone who has personally experienced the impact of war and displacement, having escaped my home country as a refugee, I understand the profound truth that there are no winners in conflict. It is the vulnerable who bear the brunt of the suffering.”

We stand with vulnerable, displaced peoples around the world. We stand ready — our doors and our hearts open — to offer support to those who need it, as we have done for three decades.

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