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Statement on Human Rights and the Protection of Health Care Workers and Facilities in Palestine

We acknowledge the recent escalation in, and ongoing violence between Hamas and Israel, a continuation of long-standing conflicts dating back to 1948 and earlier. Global conflict has local impacts on people and communities, with increased stress, depression, anxiety and other trauma-related issues surfacing for those with families and loved ones close to this global tragedy. Even those without loved ones in the conflict can be affected seeing people who look, speak, or pray like them being victimized. On a human level, it hurts to see others hurt and feel powerless to help them. 


As a founding member of the Alliance for Healthier Communities, our community health center is committed to providing comprehensive primary healthcare, we are also deeply involved in advocacy for clients, clinicians, and carers. This relates to global health crises, including access to basic human rights, and the protection of medical staff and health facilities. This means we are paying close attention to the ongoing crisis in Palestine, as starkly highlighted in a recent World Health Organization (WHO) press release dated January 15, 2024.


The release portrays the grim situation, where the entire population of approximately 2.2 million people is grappling with severe food insecurity and are dependent on aid for survival. The WHO, along with other United Nations agencies, has emphasized the urgent need to improve the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza. Issues such as closed border crossings and restricted movement for humanitarian workers impede aid delivery but also pose risks to the safety of medical staff and the functionality of health facilities.


We call for an immediate end to violence and the restoration of full access for aid agencies. This is vital for providing basic human rights such as medical care, food, and clean water and is essential for ensuring the safety and protection of medical staff and health facilities, which are often at risk in conflict zones. Our dedication to health equity and justice inspires us to stand in solidarity with those enduring such dire circumstances.


The CCHC is guided by our Health Equity Charter. As we continue to support communities, the people we serve, staff, volunteers and newcomers to Canada, we will strive for a society that protects the human rights of all people, and that takes steps to dismantle systems and cultures of oppression and deprivation. We must remain aware of the connections between colonialism, oppression, violence and hate, abroad and here in Canada.


These events have also brought out tensions, with increased incidents of hate, racism, Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism, in our communities, schools and workplaces. People are being persecuted for calling for peace, and are facing professional and personal repercussions. People across Ontario and Canada must have the freedom to express their political ideas, ideals, and their identities without fear and without oppression. At CCHC we believe in open communication and respect – this is a bedrock of not just our democracy, but our shared humanity.


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