CWS appeal update: Gaza humanitarian crisis

Israel has completed a pullout from the Gaza Strip just as the United Nations estimates that the devastated Palestinian area needs some $330 million in immediate relief aid; total reconstruction needs could come to $2 billion, Reuters Alertnet reported. Among immediate needs are shelter for the displaced. Many Gaza residents are now homeless and without access to temporary shelters or protection from the cold. Community and individual trauma is widespread and will have a long-term effect.

Woman leads donkey 
A woman in the Gaza Strip leads a donkey cart loaded with containers of fresh water back to what remains of her house in the village of Johr El-Deek on Jan. 21.  Thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed--and tens of thousands made homeless--in Israel's 22-day offensive.
Photo: REUTERS/Jerry Lampen, courtesy http://www.alertnet.org/

Israel has completed a pullout from the Gaza Strip just as the United Nations estimates that the devastated Palestinian area needs some $330 million in immediate relief aid; total reconstruction needs could come to $2 billion, Reuters Alertnet reported. Among immediate needs are shelter for the displaced.  Many Gaza residents are now homeless and without access to temporary shelters or protection from the cold. Community and individual trauma is widespread and will have a long-term effect.
 
More than 1,300 Palestinians were killed and more than 5,000 wounded during the three-week war, the Los Angeles Times reported. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the Times reported, estimated that 21,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed.
 
The UN has warned that there have been "critical gaps" in aid reaching Gaza and there is concern for a continuing humanitarian crisis, with 1.5 million people suffering from acute shortages of fuel, food and medical supplies. Some 250,000 people in the northern part of Gaza are also reported to be without electricity. Health institutions - hospitals and clinics - are jeopardized by lack of medicines, materials, fuel, staff and infrastructure damage or destruction. Children lack basic food and there are concerns about nutrition deficits for small children, pregnant /lactating women and the elderly.

CWS Response

Church World Service is supporting efforts as a member of the Action by Churches Together International alliance. ACT efforts include those of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC)'s Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees (DSPR), International Orthodox Christian Charities, DanChurchAid (DCA) and Norwegian Church Aid, all long-time CWS partners.
 
This week, CWS-supported ACT distribution efforts began, with ACT International operating two health clinics and distributing food to 15,000 displaced persons. DSPR is operating two clinics -- in Rafah and Daraj -- after a third clinic, in Shaja*ia in Gaza City, was destroyed by Israeli forces last week.
 
ACT members and implementing partner organizations have been targets of bombardments, resulting in casualties and immense damage. In addition to the January 11 attack that destroyed the Shaja'ia clinic, three mobile health clinics, supported by DCA, were destroyed in a Jan. 5 Israeli air strike. The three clinics were built inside small trucks and were functioning as mobile health facilities in Gaza.
 
Despite these considerable problems and obstacles, CWS-supported efforts are moving ahead. CWS partners are working under the umbrella of the ACT Palestine Forum (APF), to coordinate a response within Gaza.
 
By partner, CWS-supported efforts include:
 
I. DSPR has been the lead agency for the crisis phase, with assistance to some 36,000 persons, or 3,000 families. As noted above, efforts have focused on food aid; the distribution of biscuits to 40,000 children; the distribution of water; health care assistance. Other efforts: trauma counselling and job creation/cash for food for 1,913 people initially, followed by additional assistance to 5,737 people later. Budget: Total: $1,725,329; $252,935 already pledged; total needed: $1,472,394.  Includes $392,461 in direct assistance through March; then $884,323 in direct assistance from April-December.
 
II. CWS partner International Orthodox Christian Charities, working with the YMCA, is providing emergency food and non-food assistance to some 59,600 persons and "psycho-social" (trauma recovery) services to 4,250 children and caregivers, in the initial phase through March. In the post-crisis phase, several programs of assistance are planned, including the distribution of hygiene kits to 22,000 persons. As well, the distribution of school kits to 15,000 students and  medical supplies to assist 10,000 patients. Total budget: $2,496,077, includes $2,258,724 in direct program costs. Of the total amount of $2,496,077, $1,586,063 has been raised. Balance needed: $910,014.
 
III. CWS partner Norwegian Church Aid is supporting the Episcopal Diocese in Jerusalem through the Al Ahli Arab Hospital, located in Gaza City. The hospital is a general facility with a 100-bed capacity, now operating with 50 beds because of limited resources. The CWS-supported response includes providing free medical care for 2,600 impoverished patients (roughly 130 patients per work for 20 weeks); burn therapy for 50 children; care for 300 malnourished children; 300 chronically ill women will receive treatment against hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis over a four-month period; 200 impoverished women will be screened for breast cancer through mammography; 200 poor chronically ill women and elderly will receive food parcels and commodities; 60 personnel for new-job training and education over three-month periods. Total budget, including direct assistance: $814,147; $101,520 received so far; Balance needed: $712,627.
 
IV. DanChurchAid, a long-time CWS partner, is providing assistance to 2,500 persons who are not receiving any other type of humanitarian assistance - specifically those in the Jabalya camp for internally displaced persons. This includes providing hot meals to 2,500 persons during the next 60 days. CWS-supported efforts also include assistance to ensure a supply of blood for the wounded. Budget for direct assistance: $300,000; $20,000 received; balance needed: $280,000.

HOW TO HELP: Contributions may be made online at www.churchworldservice.org/emergencyaid, by phone (800-297-1516), or sent to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515.

 

All active news articles