Tukunga pāpāho

Union stands in solidarity with Palestinian children on Children’s Day — calls for immediate permanent ceasefire

01 Pou 2024

Ahead of Children’s Day on Sunday 3 March, NZEI Te Riu Roa stands in solidarity with Palestinian children and advocates for their rights to education and peace.

The country’s largest education union condemns the atrocious acts of violence that have killed more than 12,000 children since the invasion started in October 2023. It calls for an immediate and permanent ceasefire.

NZEI Te Riu Roa president, Mark Potter, says the destruction of life is beyond comprehension.

“This is a humanitarian disaster. Our union stands in support of those children and teachers who have been killed, and those children and teachers who are now displaced and unable to live their lives. We send a message of support and aroha to those children, their whānau and their teachers."

Potter says that at the beginning of 2023, UN Agencies reported a literacy rate of 97.7 percent for young Palestinian students.

“That’s an incredible statistic, achieved despite a history of occupation. It is tragic that no schools are open in Gaza today.”

Of the 737 schools in Gaza, 288 are run by UN Relief and Works Agency. The New Zealand Government have threatened to defund UNRWA at a review point in June. This is the only functioning relief body left from the UN.

"We’re marking this Sunday, Children’s Day, by calling on the Government to continue to give funding via UNRWA to students and teachers in Palestine. We cannot stand back and do nothing while children suffer,” says Potter.

“It is too often children that suffer most in war or conflict whether in Palestine, Ukraine or elsewhere. Children’s Day should remind us that their right to peace, to education and to each fulfill their potential should be upheld every day.”