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12 Jan 2024 - IASW calls for an end to the indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians in Gaza, an immediate ceasefire, release of all hostages and mobilisation of urgent access to humanitarian aid to those in need

The Irish Association of Social Workers (IASW) notes with deepening concern and condemns the ongoing murderous conflict in the Palestinian territories, especially in Gaza. We deplore the steadily rising death and injury toll among the civilian population, the clear and widespread disregard for human rights, particularly the right to life. We call for an immediate ceasefire, the release of all hostages, and access to immediate humanitarian aid for those who need it. IASW reiterates our condemnation of all acts of terrorism and war crimes committed in the ongoing conflict, especially the targeting, killing and injuring of civilians, including men, women and children. As we stated previously, the withdrawal and denial of access of vital life resources, including food, water, electricity and fuel, the bombing of densely populated areas, the forced displacement of civilians, the abduction of men, women and children, the taking of hostages and the killing and injury of so many children in particular, all constitute clear infringements of fundamental rights, in violation of International Human Rights Law. The resulting humanitarian crisis impacts most severely on the well-being and survival of the most vulnerable in the population: including women, children, people with disabilities, elderly people and people with medical needs who are reliant on access to medical care. The actions taken against the people of Palestine constitute, as described by UN experts, a ‘genocide in the making.’

The social work profession is founded on a fundamental respect for basic human rights, social justice, and the right of all people and communities to live in freedom, with self-determination. Irish social workers again echo the appeals of bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families and others who have called for an end to the war and the immediate start of peace negotiations. As well as calling for an immediate end to the current hostilities, we urge all those in a position to do so, to take the necessary steps to broker and enable real peace in the region. We stand with all those impacted and affected by the current conflict and send our support to victims of the war in both Palestine and Israel. As the ongoing war progresses to ever-deeper levels of depravity in Gaza, with the killing and abduction of humanitarian workers including some social workers, we express our solidarity with the people of Gaza and Palestine and with all our social work colleagues in the region.

In his New Year’s Eve message, President Michael D. Higgins stated that: “It is incumbent on all nations to redouble their efforts for an immediate ceasefire, the release of all hostages and to set about the tasks of achieving a lasting peace, one which can allow the Palestinian people to realise their rights alongside those of a secure Israel” and pointing out that: “It is not morally acceptable to be indifferent.” The collective wellbeing of the people of Gaza is increasingly precarious. In a grim assessment of the devastating impact of Israel’s military response to the horrific Hamas attacks on 7 October, Martin Griffiths of the UN has said that Gaza’s 2.3 million people face “daily threats to their very existence,” while the world just watches, and that: “Tens of thousands of people, mostly women and children, have been killed or injured, families are sleeping in the open as temperatures plummet and areas where Palestinians were told to relocate have been bombed. Famine is around the corner.”

As Social Workers, we cannot ignore the ongoing destruction of innocent lives, and the horrific destruction and continued abuse of core human rights in Palestine. The killing and murderous devastation must stop now.

IASW has called on the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) to issue a statement, calling for an immediate ceasefire and an expression of solidarity with the people of Palestine and for the immediate provision of access to humanitarian aid.


Vivian Geiran

Chair of IASW


IASW Spokesperson: Vivian Geiran via office on 086 0241055