Councillors add voice to calls for ceasefire

Aid getting through is “drop in ocean”

By Julia Gregory, Local Democracy Reporter

A woman in a hijab, a man and another woman

Three Islington Labour councillors have joined calls for party leader Keir Starmer to back a ceasefire in Gaza to save lives.

Barnsbury ward councillor Jilani Chowdhury, who chairs the health and care scrutiny committee, St Mary’s and St James’ ward councillor and women and girls champion Saiqa Pandor and Laycock councillor and migrants champion Ilkay Cinko-Oner are amongst 150 signatories to the Labour Muslim Network letter.

They are calling for an urgent ceasefire  and want Hamas to return the Israeli hostages they snatched in raids last month which triggered the escalation of the conflict.

In their letter councillors told Starmer and  his deputy leader Angela Rayner that the aid that is getting through is a “a drop in the ocean”. They highlighted the  deaths of thousands of Israelis and Palestinians killed in the conflict.

They echoed the concerns of humanitarian agencies the World Food Programme and World Health Organisation about the “catastrophic conditions” for civilians in Gaza.

Councillors said constituents are distressed by the conflict and the impact on civilians as the death toll on both sides increases.

“People just want an end to the bloodshed and loss of innocent life,” the letter said.

The councillors added that “children and hundreds of innocent men and women pay the price” until there is a ceasefire.

They want Labour’s leadership to join faith leaders and charities urging the government and international leaders to press for a ceasefire.

The letter said: “No nation, no people or community should have to endure collective punishment and the same should be the case for the Palestinian people. We are also clear that hostages held captive must also be returned to their families safely.”

The councillors and  the Labour party have been contacted for comment.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is amongst senior politicians calling for a ceasefire instead of a humanitarian pause for civilians to leave Gaza.

Starmer is coming under pressure from his party and several councillors have quit the party over his stance.

Burnley and Pendle council leaders have called on him to quit as party chief.

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