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An urgent petition signed by over 35,000 people and backed by 16 leading agencies, including War on Want, was handed in today to Tony Blair, pressing him to call for an immediate ceasefire in the current Middle East crisis. The petition, signed following advertisements published in three national newspapers just four days ago, reflects public unease about the UK’s failure to seek an immediate ceasefire.
War on Want Chief Executive Louise Richards said: “More innocent lives will be lost unless there is an immediate ceasefire. The longer violence continues the further political leaders will be from resolving not only the present crisis, but its fundamental cause, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
Martin Bell, the former MP and television war correspondent, who presented the petition in Downing Street, said: “The case for an immediate ceasefire is overwhelming. The British government should, in unequivocal terms, demand an immediate ceasefire and pressurise the Bush administration to do likewise. These tens of thousands of signatures gathered in just a few days show just how strongly the public feel. The government would do well to heed them.”
According to aid agencies, there are no security guarantees at present, and aid convoys are being bombed. Amelia Bookstein, from Save the Children, said: “Despite all the finely crafted promises for pauses and humanitarian corridors, most aid still cannot get through to those children and families most in need. Innocent children are being killed daily in a war they had no part or place in.”
Janet Symes, Middle East Regional Manager for Christian Aid, said: “Christian Aid is extremely concerned about the deepening humanitarian crisis in the Middle East and the lack of compelling arguments for why the government will not call for an immediate ceasefire. This would save lives and create the space for negotiations that can address the root causes of this conflict.”
The full list of organisations backing the petition is: War on Want, BASIC, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Education Action International, International Rescue Committee, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Medact, Muslim Council of Britain, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund, UNISON, Welfare Association and World Vision UK.