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Following the escalation in violence in the Gaza Strip, Christian Aid will be providing much needed medical supplies, trained staff and counseling to civilians most in need.
It’s partner in Gaza, Palestinian Medical Relief Services, PMRS, has been providing medical assistance to the injured and to people suffering from shock due to the bombardment. Their primary health care center Abu Taema in South East Khan Younes has also been affected, and just like the rest of the village the clinic now has no electricity, water, Internet or means of communication.
Health services are stretched in the Gaza Strip with damage sustained to one of Gaza’s main hospitals, at least two health centres, and emergency services are struggling to cope with the number of injuries. 124 trucks carrying medication, food, gas and other supplies entered Gaza on Sunday, but humanitarian needs are growing. The last week has also had a significant impact on the psychological state of Gaza’s civilians and high levels of trauma are emerging, especially among children. Many people have not been able to leave their homes for several days.
Azzam Al Saqqa, emergency officer at Christian Aid based in Gaza said: ‘The last week has had a huge psychological effect on Gazan civilians; they have been living in fear every moment. Women and children are among the most badly affected. They are directly exposed to life-threatening experiences that cause constant fear, shock and trauma. Men feel helpless and powerless to protect their own and their families and loved ones. They are left speechless when their little kids talk about death more than they talk about life.’
In addition to limited medical supplies, civilians are also suffering from a lack of basic essentials such as food and sanitation items. Shops are running low on stocks with long queues for basics such as bread. There are restrictions on the amount of fuel that people are allowed to purchase and regular power cuts.
Since last Wednesday over 100 Palestinians have died in Israeli airstrikes, and a reported 900 have been injured. Communities in southern Israel have also suffered from sustained rocket fire from militant groups in the Gaza Strip. Three Israelis have died as a result of this. Talks are taking place, which could make ceasefire imminent, which is when people can start re-building their lives.
William Bell, Christian Aid’s advocacy officer for the Middle East said ‘There is an urgent need to seek an end to the violence between Israel and the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip to avoid any further loss of life. Civilians on both sides are paying the price for the lack of meaningful engagement to find a viable peace.’
Christian Aid has already responded to on-going problems affecting civilian populations across the Middle East, including in Syria, Lebanon and the occupied Palestinian territory.
William Bell said ‘Political instability and marginalisation are chronic throughout the region which is intensifying the insecurity, fear and vulnerability that so many people now feel.’
‘Both within the Middle East itself and in the wider international community political leadership has failed to engage sufficiently with efforts to achieve a viable peace for all.’
‘The situation in Gaza today cannot be regarded in isolation. Israel’s maintenance of a six year blockade of this piece of land is part of the continuing conflict with Palestinians. This includes the on-going occupation of Palestinian territory and its people in violation of their rights and dignity.
Christian Aid is concerned for the security of those Israeli citizens who are suffering from rocket attacks fired out of Gaza at civilian areas.
Christian Aid believes that the international community must do more to ensure that the rights and security of all are protected.
William Bell added, ‘It is not only in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory where the protection of civilians is an urgent priority. In Syria, hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled from violent conflict into basic camps with limited protection. As we have witnessed so many times before, it is innocent civilians who pay the price for a consistent political failure to tackle the core causes of conflict.’
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