The International Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) is a source of un-earmarked money created by the International Federation in 1985 to ensure that immediate financial support is available for Red Cross Red Crescent response to emergencies. The DREF is a vital part of the International Federation's disaster response system and increases the ability of National Societies to respond to disasters.
CHF 117,783 (USD 106,890 or EUR 78,078) was allocated from the International Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) on 9 November 2008 to support the Palestine Red Crescent Society (Palestine RC) in delivering immediate assistance to some 2,423 beneficiaries.
The operation was planned to enable the Palestine RC to ensure initial humanitarian response to the most vulnerable among the flood victims in Gaza. The DREF support focused on basic relief needs through the provision of relief items such as blankets, tarpaulins, hygiene kits, and first aid kits.
From the early afternoon of 27 October 2008 and the following 36 hours, torrential rains hit the Gaza Strip, causing heavy floods in huge parts of this densely populated and poor area. After summer-long drought, the ground was not able to absorb the huge mass of water which washed away sand, dust, and garbage from streets; merged with sewage from underground reservoirs; and filled the ground floors of the homes with mud, garbage, and contaminated dirty water. Among the worst hit areas were where the poorest of the poor people in the Gaza Strip were located. In the northern part, dozens of houses were under water and mud. In the southern city of Khan Younis, where there was no functioning or very poor drainage and sewage systems, the dirty and contaminated water found its way through streets into homes and other buildings. One of the sewage treatment plants in the north of the Gaza Strip was filled up to the brink of its banks, creating fears that this sewage water may completely bury residential areas, like what happened the previous year with another dam bursting its banks, submerging a number of houses, and even drowning some people.