St. Petersburg, Russia - G8 leaders meeting in St. Petersburg must prioritize the escalating crises in Darfur and the Middle East and act to protect millions of civilians in danger, said international agency Oxfam today.
Oxfam is calling on the G8 to find solutions and commit resources to prevent further deaths in the violence-wracked regions. The agency argues that the G8 leaders must honor the commitments to peace, security and resolving conflicts they made just one year ago in Gleneagles, where the G8 communiqué clearly said: “Peace is the first condition of successful development.”
“It’s been a year of concerned words but little action since Gleneagles,” said Jeremy Hobbs, Oxfam International’s executive director. “The leaders are meeting against a backdrop of a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian crises and they must act this weekend to save lives.”
The lack of security in Darfur is severely hampering the aid effort and just last week Oxfam was forced to temporarily close two of its offices in North Darfur following the abduction of a staff member.
In Darfur just 7,000 African Union troops are trying to secure a region the size of France and three million people are dependent on humanitarian assistance. Despite G8 leaders’ promises last year to support peace-keeping and much talk of a UN operation, the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) lacks funds, resources and troops to carry out essential security and protection patrols.
“Since the peace agreement two months ago the situation has actually worsened in some areas of Darfur,” said Jeremy Hobbs. “The G8 must commit to fully resource the AU troops so they can immediately protect Darfuris.”
Oxfam is also deeply concerned by escalating violence in Israel, Gaza and Lebanon that has led to the death of many innocent civilians.
Speaking from St. Petersburg Daniela Lloyd-Williams, Oxfam’s policy co-ordinator for the Middle East said, “The G8 and the entire international community share a responsibility to protect all civilians in the Middle East from violence.”
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza currently suffer from collapsing health services, lack of water and electricity and poor sanitation. If the current conflict continues, these dire circumstances could spread to all 1.3 million civilians in Gaza. Oxfam works in both Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
“Peace cannot be achieved when people feel threatened, cannot make a living and do not have access to food, water, health care, electricity and other basic necessities,” said Daniela Lloyd-Williams.
Israel must restore supplies, food, medicine, electricity, fuel and water. Armed groups must stop indiscriminate attacks on Israel that harm civilians. Oxfam urges all parties to the conflict to act with restraint and urges the G8 to take the necessary steps to protect all civilians in danger.