5 August 2014 - Christian Aid’s partners in Gaza are using the 72-hour ceasefire to reach some of the hundreds of thousands of people affected by the conflict with life saving medicine, food and clean water.
Four weeks of bombardment have displaced nearly a third of the population, who are now staying with relatives or living in schools, hospitals, or even on the streets. The level of need everywhere is massive.
William Bell, Christian Aid’s Policy and Advocacy Officer for Israel and the Palestinians, said: 'We fully welcome the ceasefire as it is critical to get immediate humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. Christian Aid partners who have been aiding people throughout the fighting can now reach the most vulnerable communities who were inaccessible before.
'The talks in Cairo between Hamas and Israel must be turned into an opportunity to get a long-term ceasefire in place. There has to be a real end to the death and destruction of the last month and successful measures to make sure this never happens again.'
Israel’s attacks against Gaza’s health services were unprecedented, leaving 35 medical facilities severely damaged including two clinics belonging to our partner Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS). Despite this, the group has been reaching up to 8,000 people a day with essential healthcare and treatment.
With the present ceasefire, PMRS can now move mobile clinics into previously inaccessible places. At least 9,000 people injured by the shelling are in desperate need of medical care, because the health service is on the brink of collapse.
In recent days, Gaza’s only power plant was forced out of operation, with the lack of power hitting the sewage and water systems. Christian Aid partner the Agricultural Development Association is now starting to access areas that have been previously been cut off from any kind of support, hoping to reach some 30,000 people with fresh water.
Banks have been closed for a month so people have not had money to buy food, and fishermen have been unable to feed their families. Our partner the Woman’s Affairs Centre will be supporting 200 female-headed households with vouchers for food and essential hygiene items.
And with the UN estimating that some 373,000 children are in need of psychosocial support and care as a result of what they have seen, Christian Aid partner Culture and Free Thought Association are looking to start providing vital psychological and social care to both women and children. Any child above the age of seven in Gaza has now lived through three major offensives.
Another partner, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, is continuing to document violations of international humanitarian law. It is operating in places where the bombings have been worst.
Azzam Al Saqqa, Christian Aid consultant in Gaza, today described the situation on the ground: 'Today, when I look round my neighbourhood, I see civilian houses flattened, fishing boats destroyed. This used to be a beautiful place. Now it is rubble. I can smell the gunpowder.
'Paramedics are starting to pull bodies out of the rubble. There is so much work to do. People really need this ceasefire so that they can meet their survival needs and live in dignity.'
The UN has reported that at least 1,312 Palestinians civilians, including 403 children, have been killed in Gaza. Three civilians have also been killed in Israel as a result of indiscriminate rocket fire from the Strip.
Christian Aid is deeply concerned for the security of both Israeli and Palestinian civilians and condemns all violence against civilians without exception.
To find out more about our appeal or to donate please visit the Christian Aid website at www.christianaid.ie or telephone our 7 day a week appeal number: Dublin (01) 901 5035 or Northern Ireland (028) 9592 2015.
If you would like further information or to arrange an interview with spokespeople in Gaza please contact Adrian Horsman in Belfast: +44(0) 7710 764 093 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to editors:
1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 50 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.
2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document ‘From Inspiration to Impact’ outlines how we set about this task.
3. For more information about the work of Christian Aid, visit www.christianaid.ie