Ordinary Palestinian, Lebanese and Israeli families are suffering from a military conflict in the Middle East that must cease says the ACTU.

The ACTU calls for an immediate end to attacks on civilians and an urgent solution to the current Middle East crisis.

“Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA has two appeals for humanitarian assistance, one for families in the Gaza Strip and another for families in Burj el-Barajneh refugee camp in Lebanon. I urge people to make donations to these appeals – please ring 1800 888 674 or visit www.apheda.org.au,” said Ms Burrow.

“Immediate steps must be taken to end the ongoing attacks against civilians and civilian objects,” Sharan Burrow, President of the ACTU said today.

“It is working people who are suffering, and especially the children and elderly in the refugee camps in Lebanon.

“It is vital at this time of rapidly rising tension that all parties observe the requirements of international humanitarian law, and that the Australian Government takes all appropriate steps to insist that they do so,” says Ms Burrow.

According to Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, “extensive destruction … not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly,” is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions and constitute war crimes.

Likewise Article 33 prohibits “collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism”.

Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA the ACTU overseas humanitarian aid arm has been assisting community-based organisations in both Gaza and Lebanon for over 20 years with health, agriculture and food production and vocational training projects.

Ms Olfat Mahmoud, the Director of the Women’s Humanitarian Organisation, one of Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA’s partner organisations works in Burj el-Barajneh refugee camp in Lebanon.

Ms Mahmoud describes the camp as under siege being sandwiched between Beirut Airport and Haret Horik district, where Hezbollah has a strong presence. She reports frightening and relentless aerial bombardment that prevents the Palestinian refugees being able to leave the camp in search of food. Those in the camp who do have employment are usually contract workers who get paid on a daily basis and now have no work or money for food and other necessities. She also reports that many families are now dependent on international assistance for survival.

For more information call:
Peter Jennings. Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA 0409 047 353