18 February 2018
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  • » 02/06/2018, 15.55

    ISRAEL-PALESTINE

    For Caritas director, Gaza is on the verge of collapse



    The situation in the Strip is getting worse due in part to Trump’s funding cut. Currently, only six hours of electricity are available a day. Caritas is committed to children traumatised by wars and to the elderly.

    Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - "Gaza is on the brink of collapse," warns Sister Bridget Thige, the new director general of Caritas Jerusalem, who has been involved for years in projects to help the people of the Gaza Strip, afflicted by poverty and continuous wars.

    The situation in Gaza has worsened in recent months and future prospects are not positive. The blockade that turned the Strip into an "open-air prison" from which it is "almost impossible" to get out continues.

    The energy crisis is still acute, essential medical drugs are in short supply, cuts to the salaries of the employees of the Palestinian National Authority have aggravated the bad economic situation and, now, the freezing of US funds for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) is raising fears.

    “Cuts will affect not only the recipients of aid and education but also employees,” says Sister Thige. “Thousands of people work for the agency: teachers, social workers, psychologists. If the budget is cut UNRWA will have to decide what to cut. Will it be education? Health? Food?”

    This is happening at a time of acute fuel shortages. "Last summer the energy crisis got very desperate. I was living in Gaza at the time so I've lived through it with the Gazan people.”

    “Where I lived in Gaza City, sometimes during the heat of the summer in July and August, we had electricity for as a little as two, three or four hours. People had no fridge, so they had to buy food every day. This made things more expensive. Hospitals had to spend more money on generators to run essential services.”

    “People really suffered. I've heard stories of families rushing [to hospital] with a choking child who needed a ventilator to get the child breathing again. Now it's a little better.”

    Although there are more hours of electricity, the situation in hospitals is still desperate because they lack basic medicines.

    "When I was living in Gaza, I attended meetings organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO), together with a local Health Ministry representative, a video link with Ramallah, and other organisations involved in healthcare. We got a regular update on the list of medicines, which is almost always near zero."

    In Gaza Caritas’s main commitment is to health, to support the most vulnerable with a permanent medical centre and mobile teams. The focus is on children and seniors, who no one else cares for.

    For the youngest, the main objective is to work with their minds traumatised by the war. "If you are ten years old in Gaza, you have gone through three or four wars. Many children – probably all – are traumatised to some extent."

    Another programme targets refugees aged 3 to 5 years in poor areas, where intestinal worms are a major problem.

    “I hope there are political and other negotiations behind the scenes to ease the situation,” concludes Sister Thige, “but I don't know what they are. All I know is the situation on the ground. I lived there, I shared their lives, I know how desperate it is.”

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    See also

    24/01/2008 EGYPT – ISRAEL – PALESTINE
    Egypt blocks Palestinian ‘exodus’ in Rafah
    Since yesterday Egypt’s border police has allowed some 350,000 Gazans to reach Rafah driven by the need to buy food and fuel. Ordered by Egyptian President Mubarack, police is today stopping cars and people illegally coming through the breaks in the border wall. In Israel the country’s High Court is asked to hear a petition presented by some associations who want the blockade lifted.

    06/03/2008 PALESTINE - ISRAEL
    Gaza priest: "They want to kill us all slowly"
    Fr Manawel Musallam confirms the inhuman situation of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip under the Israeli blockade, denounced by a report from eight NGO's, the worst humanitarian crisis since 1967. The priest recounts the deaths and traumas among children, and launches a desperate appeal to the international community.

    08/01/2009 ISRAEL – PALESTINE
    Three-hour ceasefire not enough to avoid humanitarian crisis in Gaza
    There is no water, power and food in the Strip. Risk of infection and disease is high for at least 10,000 people. Fuel and wheat are top priority in humanitarian relief.

    01/02/2008 PALESTINE - ISRAEL
    The Gaza border is under control, while Egypt is pushing Hamas and Abbas to dialogue
    Cairo hopes to restore the Palestinian Authority as the guarantee of security in Gaza. But dialogue between Abbas and Meshal is still difficult. Human Rights Watch accuses Israel and the international community of creating a "humanitarian crisis" in the Gaza Strip.

    03/01/2009 ISRAEL - PALESTINE
    Israel kills another Hamas leader. Gaza offensive continues
    Abu Zakaria al-Jamal has been killed. Khaled Mashaal is threatening Tel Aviv, and urging the Muslim world to unite. Demonstrations in many Islamic countries. Humanitarian crisis worsens.



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