ASEAN, Australian Leaders Call for Immediate Cease-fire in Gaza

ASEAN and Australian leaders at the special ASEAN and Australia summit. (Photo: @AlboMP, X)

Gaza, MINA – The leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Australia on Wednesday called for an “immediate and “durable” cease-fire in the Palestinian besieged enclave of Gaza, Wafa reports.

“We reiterate our shared concern about the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza,” the leaders said in a joint statement, dubbed the Melbourne Declaration.

Condemning attacks “against all civilians and civilian infrastructure,” the declaration called for an “immediate and durable humanitarian ceasefire.”

Melbourne hosted a special summit of the ASEAN and Australia to mark 50 years of official relations between the Southeast Asian bloc and Canberra.

The declaration said Gaza is witnessing a “humanitarian crisis,” including restricted access to food, water, and other basic needs.​​​​​​​

It also extended its “support” to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees in the execution of its mandate, as well as UN Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza Sigrid Kaag to discharge her task effectively and efficiently, and begin the work on post-conflict reconstruction.

“We call for rapid, safe, unimpeded and sustained humanitarian access to all those in need, including through increased capacity at border crossings, including by sea,” said the declaration.

“We call on all parties to the conflict to protect civilians and to abide by international humanitarian law and international human rights law,” it said, calling for “immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, especially women, children, the sick and the elderly.”

“We underscore the importance of release from any arbitrary detention,” it demanded, urging all parties concerned to work toward a peaceful resolution to the conflict to realize the two-state solution based on the pre-1967 borders.

Israel has launched a deadly offensive on the Gaza Strip following a cross-border incursion by the Palestinian group Hamas on Oct. 7, 2023. The ensuing Israeli bombardment has killed at least 30,631 people and injured 72,043 others with mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

The Israeli war has pushed 85 per cent of Gaza’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water, and medicine, while 60 per cent of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza. (T/RE1/P2)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)