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25 July 2014 - Aid workers from the humanitarian aid agency CARE International are warning of the colossal strain on medical services and hospitals in Gaza as the violence shows no signs of stopping. Hospitals are being used as places of refuge with people sleeping on the floors and corridors. The continuing bombardment is preventing urgent medical supplies from entering Gaza.
Medics in Gaza have reported 788 deaths and more than 5,000 injuries, the vast majority of whom are civilians. 1.2 million people currently have little or no access to water and 140,000 have been displaced with no safe place to seek refuge.
“Our colleagues on the ground report massive destruction and death. They tell of their hour by hour struggle to find a relatively safe space for their families. Those who go out to search for food or water could be targeted and shot.” says Rene Celaya, Country Director for CARE West Bank and Gaza. “It is imperative that the fighting stops and aid reaches the thousands of people in desperate need of basic supplies and urgent medical assistance. CARE calls for an immediate ceasefire to allow urgent medical care to reach the thousands of innocent civilians caught up in the crisis. We call on the international community to work with all parties to agree to durable solutions to the conflict.”
Ghada Al Kord, 28, co-ordinates safety and security for CARE staff in Gaza and has lived in Gaza her whole life. Ghada lives with her husband and 18-month-old daughter. She was pregnant during the previous conflict in Gaza in 2012 and is now pregnant again under the threat of another military operation.
“There was an airstrike outside of our door. My husband and daughter had just been standing in that same place one minute before. Thank God they were not injured. The next day I went to my sister’s. My niece answered the phone and it was a call from the IDF telling us to evacuate the house. In two minutes we were in the street with my nieces and nephews screaming and shouting. The place where I would have been sleeping was totally damaged.”
Ghada lost her brother to a drone strike six years ago, leaving four children without a father.
She added: “We are living between wars. There is no dignity. We are frustrated and we do not know when it will end. We just want to live in peace, not war. We just want to live like other people.”
CARE estimates that at least 107,000 children require direct and specialized psychosocial support (PSS) to deal with the death of family members, injuries or loss of home over the past two weeks. Child protection and psychosocial support is urgently required.
"Children have stopped eating and sleeping. Their health is starting to suffer. Skin conditions, infection and gastro problems are increasing," commented Dr Hassan Zebadin one of the many staff employed to help out by the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) who are working tirelessly to provide basic medical supplies to those currently caught in the conflict.
CARE and its partners are preparing to provide emergency mobile health teams to serve people affected by the violence in Gaza. As soon as the security situation allows, CARE and its partner, Palestine Medical Relief Society (PMRS), are planning to run two mobile health teams that would visit an average of 200 patients per day, providing basic health care to people living in communities affected by the on-going violence, The teams will include medical staff and a psychosocial worker to help traumatised families, and will focus in particular on women’s health needs, particularly pre- and post-natal care for pregnant women and new mothers with infants.
About CARE: CARE is one of the world’s largest humanitarian aid agencies, providing assistance in nearly 70 countries. CARE has been working in Israel, West Bank and Gaza since 1948 (with a break from 1984-1994). Today, our programs focus on economic empowerment (including livelihoods and gender equality) in Gaza and the West Bank to assist the most vulnerable residents in meeting their basic and longer-term needs. With the current fighting, CARE has temporarily suspended its programs in Gaza until the security situation improves. Find out more at www.care-international.org.
Kathryn Richards: Richards@careinternational.org, +44 (0)207 091 6047
Laura Gilmour, Gilmour@careinternational.org, +44 (0)207 091 6063