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Centre for Mental Health statement of solidarity with people affected by events in the Middle East

3 November 2023

Events taking place in Israel and Palestine over the last month have been deeply distressing to witness for millions of people worldwide.

Conflict, violence and oppression pose an existential threat to human life, and they leave a legacy of great harm to people’s mental health that can last for generations yet to be born. This is a humanitarian crisis, causing widespread loss of life and dispossession and may, according to UN experts, amount to genocide*.

Across the world, racist violence, abuse and hate crimes are spreading like shockwaves from the conflict. These too pose a severe threat to people’s mental health as well as their safety and freedom.

We know from research that bearing witness to oppression, violence and suffering, whether it takes place close to home or further afield, causes harm and distress. It can be especially traumatic for people who share identities with those experiencing violence and oppression.

Centre for Mental Health stands in solidarity with all of those who are suffering as a result of violence, racism and domination, wherever they are in the world. We abhor all racially motivated acts of violence and aggression against innocent people. Human rights violations in any form cannot be ignored. Injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere.

We will not tolerate Islamophobia or antisemitism in any form. We stand with the many people in the UK and worldwide who feel grief, pain, anxiety, fear and anguish as a result of these events. And we stand with those who are worried about or mourning loved ones throughout the region and in other conflict zones around the world.

The World Health Organisation recently asserted that mental health must be regarded as a universal human right. We are deeply concerned that dehumanising international responses to the conflict are fuelling racism and putting more people at risk, including in Britain. We call for compassionate and responsible leadership in the UK and beyond to help to bring an end to the violence and protect people’s human rights, dignity and health.

*United Nations, Office of the High Commissioner

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