Gaza crisis: unimaginable suffering

Report
from Christian Aid
Published on 07 Aug 2014 View Original

As of 6 August, at least 1,354 Palestinian civilians, including 415 children, have been killed in the Gaza Strip during Israel’s month-long offensive.

According to United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), 187,000 people are still displaced in their shelters.

People have been forced from their homes, fleeing in desperation from one place to another in one of the most densely populated spaces in the world.

However, nowhere has proved safe. They cannot leave.

A fragile ceasefire

On 4 August, a 72-hour ceasefire was agreed between Hamas and Israel. This ceasefire started at 8am and the Israeli military reported that they had withdrawn forces from Gaza.

With the announcement of the ceasefire, our partners on the ground are beginning to access areas previously cut off from any kind of humanitarian assistance. They aim to reach 20,000 people with safe water, and provide emergency healthcare and treatment.

Humanitarian needs are huge. More than 10,000 homes have been destroyed or severely damaged and 1.5 million people have limited or no access to water.

The healthcare system is still under strain and supplies are depleted. To date, 24 medical facilities have been damaged as a result of the conflict and five have been shut down.

This has put enormous pressure on healthcare workers who are overwhelmed with the masses of people seeking urgent help.

Corridors are crowded, and doctors are forced to work with just two hours of electricity per day. There is still so much to do.

Our partner, PMRS, are managing to operate two mobile health clinics in incredibly dangerous circumstances.

How we're helping

A child receives emergency healthcare in Gaza, July 2014 Emergency healthcare

Working in an incredibly dangerous environment, PMRS are managing to operate two mobile clinics. They are providing comprehensive and desperately needed essential healthcare and treatment to approximately 8,000 people every day who are taking refuge in UN schools.

During the 72-hour ceasefire, PMRS will access areas previously cut off from humanitarian support, including Shejaya. They are working with the Gaza Ministry of Health to treat vulnerable people brutally injured while caught up in the conflict.

Getting clean, safe water to people

Thousands of people have now fled their homes, and 1.5 million people have no, or limited access to water.

There is severe damage to water and sanitation facilities and Gaza’s municipalities have warned of an impending risk to public health if the situation does not improve soon.

In light of the critical humanitarian need, our partner PARC has successfully set up access to safe, clean drinking water in all areas identified by their needs assessment, despite difficulties in access.

They aim to reach 20,000 people with water in this 72-hour ceasefire period.

Psychological support

Despite the dangers faced by our partners, the Culture and Free Thought Association (CFTA) has been out on the streets of Gaza providing mattresses and hygiene kits to people who have been left effectively homeless by the continuous bombings and missile attacks. Khan Younis, the location of one of CFTA’s centres, has been a major target of the ground offensive.

During the ceasefire period, they aim to provide vital psychosocial and social support to women and children who have witnessed the horrific events of the past 30 days.

Majeda Al-Saqqa from CFTA told us: ‘We will be offering assistance to the helpers who have witnessed first-hand the atrocities that many of you have seen on your television screens. We will then need to follow up with long-term psychosocial support for people in the aftermath of these bloody and terrifying days.

‘Even today, we do not know what tomorrow will be like for us here in the Gaza Strip, but we live with the hope that our suffering will end soon.’ Provision of food relief

Our partner Women’s Affairs Centre (WAC) aims to support 200 female-headed households, providing them with vouchers to provide food and essential hygiene items.

Documenting human rights violations

Our partner the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) will be documenting, monitoring and reporting human rights violations, as well as fighting legal cases on behalf of victims.

In addition, our partner Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI) will be carrying out a fact-finding mission to the Gaza Strip once safe to cross.

They will be collecting and analysing evidence concerning:

  • the causes of injuries and of deaths with relation to types of arms used;

  • attacks on medical facilities and teams;

  • evacuation of the wounded and the dead; and

  • the impact of the attack on the health system and on broader public health issues.