16 June 2011 | Nobel Women's Initiative
Four women Nobel Peace Laureates have sent an open letter calling on United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to support the safe passage of the Freedom Flotilla II. The flotilla will be bringing much-needed humanitarian supplies to the people of Gaza in late June.
Mairead Maguire, Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, and Rigoberta Menchú Tum have asked the Secretary General to "support the people of Gaza with two key actions. First, by appointing a representative to inspect and seal the cargo of the boats of the Freedom Flotilla II—thus assuring the Israeli government that the boats are carrying humanitarian supplies..." and to "call on all governments to support the safe passage of the Freedom Flotilla II."
Download the open letter here or read the full text below.
Ki-moon has failed to make efforts to dissuade UN member governments from stopping delivery of this humanitarian aid to Gaza. These legitimate humanitarian initiatives have been undertaken by civil society in an effort to help ease the suffering of the people of Gaza as they face humanitarian crises of devastating scale. The Laureates are urging the Secretary General to use his authority to encourage international support for these initiatives, and to ask Israel not to use force against the flotilla.
June 10, 2011
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
United Nations New York, NY
RE: Inspection and sealing of Freedom Flotilla II cargo
Dear Mr. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,
We are writing to urge you to use your good offices in support of the humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza.
In our view, you can support the people of Gaza with two key actions. First, by appointing a representative to inspect and seal the cargo of the boats of the Freedom Flotilla II—thus assuring the Israeli government that the boats are carrying humanitarian supplies such as toys, medical supplies, cement and educational materials. Equally important, we strongly urge you to use your authority to call on all governments to support the safe passage of the Freedom Flotilla II. We are disappointed to learn of your recent efforts to persuade member governments from stopping the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza on the Freedom Flotilla II. We urge you to reconsider and instead encourage member states to lend support and ask Israel not to use force against legitimate humanitarian initiatives undertaken by civil society to help ease the suffering of the people of Gaza who are facing a humanitarian crisis of devastating scale.
The Freedom Flotilla II, organized by 14 national groups and international coalitions and carrying approximately 1500 ‘freedom riders,’ is set to sail to Gaza this month. Sailing in the spirit of promoting human rights, prosperity, and social responsibility, the aim of the Flotilla is to alleviate the humanitarian crisis faced by the citizens of Gaza.
The blockade in Gaza is clearly having a harmful impact on the people of Gaza, and indeed UNDP and other agencies report high levels of malnutrition and other disturbing health problems. According to a report by the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization, the level of “abject poverty” among the Palestinians of Gaza has tripled since the imposition of the blockade, with 61 % of households not having enough food. The blockade has crippled the Gaza economy and destroyed Palestinians’ livelihoods and homes.
We believe our requests to you are in keeping with UN Security Council Resolution 1860 of January 2009 as well as the 2010 UN Human Rights Council fact-finding mission on the attack on Freedom Flotilla I, which are calling for a lift of the blockade to allow humanitarian assistance. We urge you to do all you can to support this nonviolent international humanitarian effort, to provide UN representatives to inspect and seal the cargo, and to appeal to all governments to allow safe passage of the Freedom Flotilla II. Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We look forward to your positive response.
Mairead Maguire (1976)
Rigoberta Menchu Tum (1992)
Jody Williams (1997)
Shirin Ebadi (2003)