SEVENTY thousand people have signed a petition calling for the UK government to send the hospital casualty ship RFA Argus, currently based in Falmouth, to provide medical care to the victims of conflict in Gaza.
The campaign is strongly supported by cross-party MPs and the petition has now been formally presented to prime minister Cameron three times, with organisers awaiting a full response.
Organiser Chris Neal said: ‘We hear daily from our supporters wondering why a state-of-the-art casualty ship like RFA Argus is still moored in Falmouth when there is such unmet critical need in Gaza.’
According to the UN 33 hospitals and clinics have been damaged in the conflict, some hospitals are shut altogether with an overall loss of 40% of beds.
There are about 10,000 injured people, many have multiple and complex traumas that are likely to have life-long consequences.
Anthony Battersby, operations management consultant, architect and health planner, who was part of the original UNWRA reporting team in Gaza said: ‘Hospital building is a slow process and needs a relatively peaceful environment to happen.
‘It also needs substantial on-going resources to fund recurrent expenditure. So sending RFA Argus and other hospital ships is really the only way of getting additional emergency hospital care into Gaza.’
Charlotte Leslie, MP for Bristol NW, said: ‘The West has a responsibility to provide all humanitarian aid it can and to treat this tragedy with the impartiality, objectivity, deep understanding and compassion that it deserves, thus increasing its ability to begin to broker any kind of peace between Palestine and Israel.’
Grahame Morris MP said: ‘With nobody allowed in or out of Gaza, the situation has become intolerable and something must be done by the UK government.
‘The government cannot continue to stand by and do nothing. I call on the Prime Minister as a matter of urgency to use the hospital ship RFA Argus, to spearhead a humanitarian relief effort for the people of Gaza.
‘She is uniquely designed for this type of necessity and the British government must unilaterally and rapidly deploy RFA Argus to Gaza.’