Fighting in the Gaza Strip is currently on hold after both sides agreed to a long-term ceasefire. In seven weeks of fighting in Gaza, more than 2,200 people were killed and hundreds of thousands were forced from their homes. The ceasefire agreed on 26 August has given our partners much-needed space to deliver food, water and healthcare to those who need it most, and to start planning for long-term recovery.
CAFOD has been supporting our long-term partners in the Israel-Gaza, Islamic Relief and Caritas Jerusalem to provide urgently needed help.
Since the beginning of the hostilities, more than 2,200 people have been killed, and over 4,000 injured, among them many children and women. More than 120,000 people are now displaced.
On 6 August, with the conflict escalating, CAFOD launched an emergency appeal. We had received reports from our partner Islamic Relief describing the deteriorating situation:
“Shelling has devastated water and sanitation systems, many of which cannot be accessed for repair due to the heavy fighting, leaving a large percentage of the population without water until the fighting stops. The main sewage treatment plant has been hit and is no longer functioning.
“There is a serious risk of disease spreading very quickly.
“Churches, schools and private buildings are full of displaced people, who have nowhere else to go.”
There was a clear and pressing need for humanitarian access: most people in Gaza were without water and electricity was off for 20 hours each day. The water pumps were not functioning, refrigerators were not cooling and Gaza was in total darkness.
Our partners’ humanitarian aid workers needed to reach the most vulnerable communities and families with life-saving aid, such as medicine, clean water and food.
“At the height of the fighting, it was extremely difficult to deliver life-saving supplies,” says Mary Lucas, our Representative for the Middle East.
“The volunteers and local aid workers we are supporting had to take great risks to make sure that the aid got through.”
So far, supporters have donated an amazing £265,000 to our Gaza Crisis appeal. Your support has enabled our partners to deliver aid to those who need it most.
During the fighting, our partner Caritas Jerusalem provided 3,000 people in two Greek Orthodox schools with food, powdered milk and hygiene kits. Caritas also supported disabled and older people with food parcels through the Catholic parish in Gaza, and worked in six schools to provide hygiene kits, food baskets and blankets. Thanks to your donations, Caritas continued to run its health centre and mobile clinics, providing urgently needed medical care to people who were injured.
Our partner Catholic Relief Services successfully distributed 8,000 emergency kits to families displaced by the conflict. They also provided in-kind medical support, including latex gloves, bandages, surgical blades, syringes, needles and fuel for generators at health centres. We also worked with Islamic Relief and Catholic Relief Services to ensure that families who had been forced from their homes had access to water and the means to stay healthy in overcrowded shelters.
Since the fighting came to an end, all of our partners have scaled up their relief operations and are planning longer term projects to help people rebuild their lives.
There is an enormous amount of work to do. Thousands of homes were destroyed, as well as schools, hospitals and Gaza’s only power station. As people return to what is left of their homes, they need food, water, medicine and emergency supplies.
They also need hope for the future, and that’s why CAFOD is calling for the underlying causes of the conflict to be tackled.
Read about some of the projects CAFOD has supported in Gaza: