Hundreds of protesters call for Gaza ceasefire at Cop28

Largest display yet as groups come together to call for climate justice and peace in Palestine

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Protesters called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza as they marched at Cop28 in Dubai to support Palestinian civilians facing a humanitarian crisis after the death toll in the enclave passed 17,000.

Hundreds of people turned out in support of the two-hour march that moved peacefully through the UN-run Blue Zone at Expo City on Saturday.

Those draped in the Palestinian keffiyeh led chants of “ceasefire now”, while others held banners calling for climate action and financial support in the form of loans, not grants for nations impacted by climate change.

We are demonstrating here as a climate justice movement to stand up for human rights, and for the rights of a life in dignity overall
Gina Cortes Valderrama, activist

One of the organisers Asad Rehman, from London-based anti-poverty charity War on Want, said the march was the result of days of negotiations with United Nations officials.

“It was very challenging to organise, we’ve had a week of threats to de-badge us if we raised the issue of Palestine here,” said Mr Rehman.

“We have had keffiyehs confiscated, along with boards calling for a ceasefire. People with lanyards in the colours of Palestine were not allowed into buildings, or into the UN space.”

Under UN rules, flags are prohibited from protests as are chants and slogans that target certain nations.

As such, Saturday's march went ahead with no Palestinian nor Israeli flags, though keffiyehs were widely worn and Palestinian colours appeared on the fringes.

Organisers were told that chants such as “from the river to the sea” were off-limits.

Mr Rehman added: “And let's be clear, it has not been the UAE presidency that has been restricting our space.

“This has been the United States and other countries pressuring the UN to deny us the right to be able to march on Palestine in this space.”

It was the second demonstration in support of Palestine at Cop28, but supported in much greater numbers than the previous event on Sunday.

This latest public display was announced in advance, calling on people to join the global march for climate justice. Many linked the humanitarian crisis in Gaza with the need for climate equity in some of the world’s poorest nations.

Gina Cortes Valderrama, from Colombia, was out in support of indigenous people, as well as those in Gaza.

“We are demonstrating here as a climate justice movement to stand up for human rights, and for the rights of a life in dignity overall,” said Ms Valderrama.

“We are people from Philippines, we are people from Asia, from Sudan, from Congo, from every single region because we are coming from different regions where oppression has been made where ethnic reasons have been made on other territories.”

Uniformed personnel from the UN Department for Safety and Security, including armed officers, flanked protesters on either side, though the march was peaceful throughout.

Global protests

Similar rallies have taken place across the world, as many look to condemn the high number of civilian casualties in the Gaza-Israel conflict.

“We believe that climate, the struggle for climate justice is essentially the struggle for human rights,” said Zaighum Abbas, a Pakistani protester from the Climate Equity Reference Project in Canada.

Updated: December 09, 2023, 4:42 PM