The New Zealand Government has today announced it will provide $5 million in funding to address urgent humanitarian needs in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.
“New Zealand is deeply saddened by the loss of life and devastation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories,” said outgoing Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins.
“The situation continues to evolve rapidly, and New Zealand is joining other like minded countries to support those civilians and communities affected by the conflict.
“We’re making an initial contribution of $2.5 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to help meet humanitarian needs in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.”
The ICRC protects and assists victims of armed conflicts under international humanitarian law, and is working to gain access to people held hostage, distributing cash and other assistance to displaced people, and providing essential medical assistance and supplies.
New Zealand is also contributing an initial $2.5 million to the World Food Programme (WFP) under the umbrella of the United Nations appeal.
“This will help address major food insecurity concerns in Gaza and the West Bank, including through the positioning of emergency food stock ready for distribution once access is guaranteed,” said Mr Hipkins.
“New Zealand calls for rapid and unimpeded humanitarian access to enable the delivery of crucial life-saving assistance. We call on all parties to respect international humanitarian law, and uphold their obligations to protect civilians, and humanitarian workers, including medical personnel.”
Both the ICRC and WFP act with full independence and neutrality, he said.
The Government has also requested that NZDF remain on standby to assist with the evacuation of New Zealanders if required.
Many of the 244 New Zealanders still registered as being in Israel have now departed the country, the Prime Minister said.
“MFAT’s focus is now on approximately 50 people we understand are still in Israel. There is no reason to be concerned about their welfare at this stage but MFAT have made contact to clarify if any require assistance.”
“Commercial routes remain the best option to depart the region, and MFAT is actively providing consular assistance to New Zealanders who remain in the affected region. Anyone who wishes to depart should take the earliest commercial opportunity to do so.
“While not everyone wanting to leave can necessarily get themselves to a departure point, the Government has requested NZDF to remain on standby to deploy if necessary.
“We continue to work closely with partners on evacuation options for those who cannot access commercial routes, but the security situation on the ground make this difficult,” he said.
New Zealand’s contribution was determined following consultation with Prime Minister-elect, Christopher Luxon.