Holy Land: Gaza Aid Response Returns During Ceasefire

CRS and partner USAID lead a distribution of essential NFI, or non-food items in Gaza City.  Shareef Sarhan for CRS

CRS and partner USAID lead a distribution of essential NFI, or non-food items in Gaza City. Shareef Sarhan for CRS

Our CRS teams in Gaza are working tirelessly during the lulls in fighting to reach people with critical supplies. Of the 3,000 non-food-item kits procured through USAID and CRS private funds, more than 1,800 have been distributed throughout the Gaza strip.

Likewise, nearly 5,000 hygiene kits provided by OFDA have been distributed throughout Gaza. In addition to the previously-reported $25,500 worth of OFDA-funded medical supplies, CRS is in the process of procuring specially requested medical supplies and equipment for Al Ahli Hospital and Caritas Jerusalem’s network of clinics in Gaza with funding from USAID.

donate-nowWith €100,000 from Caritas Germany, CRS will provide 400 families with critical food assistance, non-food items, and clean water supplies, primarily through unconditional cash vouchers.

Transitioning from direct delivery of goods to cash vouchers will empower families to meet their needs and will support recovery of local markets.

Psycho-social support will be mainstreamed into all programming as possible, with CRS staff and partners as initial recipients, followed by services for CRS beneficiaries, including care-givers and children.

As the longer-term impact of conflict becomes clearer, CRS is in the process of planning activities for restoration of livelihoods, and is exploring options for transitional shelter.

Ceasefire doesn’t erase growing needs
Following a month of violent hostilities, parties to the conflict in Gaza entered into a 72-hour ceasefire beginning at 8 a.m. local time on Tuesday, August 5 and ending at 8:00 a.m. Friday, August 8. The ceasefire remained unviolated, with indirect negotiations for a more permanent resolution taking place in Egypt. Hostilities resumed on Friday morning, however, and continued through the weekend, albeit at a lower level of intensity. A new ceasefire went into effect on midnight Monday, August 11.

In the days leading up to and following the initial ceasefire, residents of Gaza continued to suffer fatalities, displacement, and shortages of basic supplies. The Gaza Power Plant remains shut down, causing electricity outages up to 21 hours per day. Limited power in conjunction with damage to water infrastructure and chronic fuel shortages has severely limited access to sufficient clean water. Inability to access farmland and fishing waters has similarly placed a critical strain on access to food.

Despite the current ceasefire, health institutions continue to face overwhelming demand with decreased capacity to meet the need due to the ongoing power outages, damaged facilities, shortage of medical supplies, and tight restrictions on transferring patients to Egypt, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.

During the ceasefire, Gazans began assessing damage and taking initial steps for recovery. Some have visited their homes to consider the potential for returning permanently. Markets and stores are reopening, increasing access to basic need items on a limited scale. Municipalities have started clearing rubble, allowing medical teams to recover bodies of the dead that were previously unreachable. Of particular concern as Gazans begin to move more freely are the explosive remnants of war, which are a major threat to residents, especially farmers, IDPs returning home, and children, as well as to humanitarian workers.

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