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Plaid Cymru MS calls for safe passage and refugee scheme for people of Gaza

13 Dec 2023 4 minute read
Palestinian Children. Image: David Masters

A Plaid Cymru MS has called for “safe passage” and refuge to be granted to people in Gaza fleeing the Israeli bombardment.

Peredur Owen Griffiths made the calls in the Senedd during questions to the Social Justice Minister amid a rapidly increasing death toll in Gaza.

Israel’s air and ground offensive has so far resulted in the deaths of more than 18,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, according to Hamas.

Calls for ceasefire

Nearly 85% of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million has been forced to flee their homes, and much of the northern part of the territory has been heavily shelled.

Peredur Owen Griffiths has spoken at numerous marches and rallies in recent weeks to call for a permanent ceasefire to end the bloodshed.

He said: “Since the violence erupted in Gaza at the beginning of October, the death toll has now passed 18,000 in just over two months.

“An analysis has shown that the majority of deaths have been innocent civilians. Many of them are children which is utterly heartbreaking.

“This is why it is imperative that a permanent ceasefire is secured as called for in the Plaid Cymru motion we debated here. Until that is achieved, the situation is precarious to say the least.”

“One Welsh resident with family in Palestine, contacted Plaid Cymru to say that more than 30 members of their family have been killed in their homes. Those who survived, are living in tents.

“He said ‘Even areas previously considered “safe” by Israeli forces, such as the South of Gaza, have become relentless targets, leaving no safe haven according to the UN Human Rights Organisation.’

‘I am reaching out to you in a desperate plea for assistance in securing the immediate and safe passage of my family out of Gaza on humanitarian grounds….We request temporary humanitarian residency until it is safe for them to find a more permanent solution.’”

Mr Owen Griffiths added: “Minister, Wales opened its arms in welcome and support of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Ukraine in recent years.

“What discussions has this Government had with the UK Government to establish a refugee scheme, and how could Wales play it’s part in such a scheme to offer safe passage and a sanctuary to the people of Gaza who want to flee the bloodshed?”

In response, Social Justice Minister Jane Hutt said she had recently spoken to her colleagues in UK and Scottish Government about such a scheme.

Prime Minister ‘deeply concerned’

On Tuesday 12 December, US President Joe Biden said he had told Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Tel Aviv was losing international support because of its “indiscriminate bombing”.

On the same day, the United Nations’ General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to demand a ceasefire in Gaza, a move that was objected to by the US and abstained on by the UK.

Mr Sunak defended the decision not to back the UN resolution during an exchange at Prime Minister’s Questions.

He told the Commons the UK Government supports a “sustainable ceasefire” that would need to see Hamas no longer launching rockets towards Israel and releasing the remaining hostages.

The Prime Minister has said that he is “deeply concerned about the devastating impact of the fighting in Gaza on the civilian population” and that “too many people have lost their lives already”.

Mr Sunak told MPs that, during a conversation with Mr Netanyahu last week, he “pressed him on opening up” the Kerem Shalom crossing, a Gaza border point that lies at the junction of both Israeli and Egyptian jurisdiction, to allow more aid into the enclave.

He also said ministers are “actively exploring the opportunity for maritime corridors, something the UK is well-placed to lead.”

Sunak has not addressed calls for a Gaza-specific resettlement scheme, but has said that the UK was “one of the most significant contributors to the United Nations’ efforts to support Palestinian refugees”.

 


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