Israel-Gaza conflict: Petition to send Royal Navy hospital ship to Gaza reaches 50,000
Campaigners, including comedian Rory Bremner, welcomed the deployment of NHS staff but called for the release of Falmouth-based RFA Argus
More than 50,000 people have signed a petition calling on the British government on to send a Royal Navy hospital ship to Gaza to help the spiralling number of causalities there.
Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Argus is a 100-bed seafaring hospital, which has a “four bay operating theatre with a 10 bed Critical Care Unit, a 20 bed High Dependency Unit and a CT Scanner”, the Ministry of Defence states on its website.
It is currently moored in Falmouth, yet in light of the fighting that has been raging between Israel and Gaza and the 2,000-plus lives that have been lost in the conflict, campaigners are urging the government to step up its humanitarian aid to the region.
Downing Street announced yesterday that Britain is deploying a team of NHS medics to Gaza to treat wounded victims affected by the crisis, sending doctors, paramedics, surgeons and anaesthetists.
They will initially be stationed with Medical Aid for Palestinians at Al Mokassed hospital in East Jerusalem until the best route into Gaza is established.
No 10’s moves, while welcomed, did not go far enough, petitioners said, as they continued to call for the deployment of the ship.
Campaign organiser Veronica Vickery said: “They also need medical facilities to replace those that have been destroyed. We are very much concerned that whilst being a really welcome start, sending a team of 15 medics will hardly begin to meet the medical needs of the 10,000 people injured.
“Previously UK volunteer doctors have reported delays of a fortnight at the Gaza border before being able to get on with their jobs. We wonder how effective this provision will be given the blockade.”
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The campaign is also being pushed by parliamentarians, including Andrew George, Lib Dem MP for West Cornwall, and comedian Rory Bremner.
“I have written to the Prime Minister on behalf of thousands of people who have signed or support a petition gathered in Cornwall in the last few days, and also many MPs across all Parties to urge the Government to act quickly to deploy UK MOD assets in support of the humanitarian effort to help the beleaguered people of Gaza, Mr George said in a statement.”
According to Ms Vickery, the petition was presented to Prime Minister David Cameron on 7 August and will be again on 11 August, however the PM is currently on holiday and won't return for another couple of days.
She added: “The scenes coming out of Gaza are truly horrific and we need to act. A health crisis is looming for trapped civilians, with dire conditions in the main Gaza City El Shifa hospital.
“Doctors operate on the floor and in corridors. People die untreated. Only one X-ray machine is working with a lack of doctors, nurses, paramedics, and the most basic equipment.
“We should be at the forefront of the humanitarian response, a pioneering lead from the UK in the face of tragedies like this one.”
Number 10 declined to comment when contacted by The Independent.
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