Organisations call on Government to grant emergency visas to Palestinians trapped in Gaza with Kiwi families

Non-Government organisations (NGOs) are calling on the Government to grant emergency humanitarian visas to Palestinians in Gaza who have family members in New Zealand. 

The group of more than 30 NGOs, including Save the Children, sent an open letter addressed to Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, Minister of Immigration Erica Stanford, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters this week. 

The letter states the "situation is urgent", and stresses over 1.7 million people are now displaced. 

"With no ceasefire in sight, children and families in Gaza are desperate," Save the Children New Zealand Advocacy Director Jacqui Southey said. 

"Five months of violence, displacement, starvation and disease have caused relentless mental harm to children in Gaza, with parents and caregivers telling us that imagining a future without war has virtually disappeared." 

She believes the visas would "provide a lifeline" to families. 

More than 30,000 people, including 13,000 children, have been killed in Israel's assault on Gaza.

"We are urging the New Zealand Government to grant these visas just as they have done for Ukrainian and Afghan families in the past," Southey said. 

She said the lack of food and clean water "is creating a catastrophic hunger crisis". 

"Children are now dying from starvation and nearly every child in Gaza is at risk of famine." 

"Save the Children is calling for an immediate, definitive ceasefire to save and protect the lives of children in Gaza and effective implementation of the provisional measures from the  International Court of Justice (ICJ)," she said. 

She said the Government of Israel has also been called upon to allow flow of aid and commercial goods into Gaza "to prevent children from dying of starvation and disease". 

Organisations supporting the open letter include World Vision NZ, Greenpeace Aotearoa and UnionAID.