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Christian Aid launches Gaza appeal

Global development charity Christian Aid has launched an emergency appeal to address the mounting humanitarian needs of thousands of innocent civilians caught in the violence in Gaza

The UN has reported that as of 21 July more than 479 Palestinians have been killed and at least 3,500 injured in Gaza and 27 Israelis have been killed, including 25 soldiers and two civilians. Mass displacement continues across Gaza, with over 100,000 people seeking shelter.

Displaced in Gaza
Palestinian families travel to an United Nations school to seek shelter after evacuating their homes in North of Gaza Strip. UNRWA/IRIN
Christian Aid partners on the ground have described widespread destruction to agricultural land and homes, as well as a severe shortage of medical supplies in hospitals treating the wounded. There are reports that the health system is close to collapse.

Janet Symes, Christian Aid Head of Middle East, 'The horrific escalation of violence in the region means the levels of need on the ground will continue to rise at a dramatic rate. 
'We have launched the Gaza appeal to help those whose lives have been devastated by the ongoing violence of the last two weeks. 
'Christian Aid urges the international community to act immediately to bring about a ceasefire and address the root causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to prevent this happening again.
'The current crisis is a result of decades of political failure. Without genuine dialogue and a determination from all sides to achieve a just peace, Palestinians and Israelis will be destined to live through the horrors of violence again and again.'
Al Aqsa Hospital, which provides services to 350,000 people in Gaza, was hit on Monday afternoon, leaving four people dead and 16 injured.
Three other hospitals have already been damaged including the only rehabilitation hospital in Gaza.  At least six primary healthcare facilities have sustained severe damages.
Several clinics served by Christian Aid partner Palestinian Medical Relief Society, PMRS, have been severely damaged. PMRS is currently operating two mobile clinics one in North Gaza and one in Gaza City. They are also providing services in three UN shelters which had previously acted as schools. They are aiming to reach 8,000 people a day with healthcare and treatment.
Dr Hassan Zain Eldeen, PMRS mobile clinics director said, 'People are frightened. They can’t understand everything that has happened. Maybe they will understand, but for now are living through the most traumatic horrors.'
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights is monitoring the human rights situation, but for other Christian Aid partners it is too dangerous to begin to respond.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)  estimates that 107,000 children are traumatised and in need of psychosocial support. As soon as there is a ceasefire Christian Aid partner, the Culture and Free Thought Association, will begin that process.
Another Christian Aid partner, the Agricultural Development Association, is ready to support the immediate livelihood needs of fishermen who have had their boats and nets damaged or destroyed in sea strikes by the Israeli military, as well as farmers living in northern Gaza whose agricultural lands have been targeted.
On Saturday in a night of intense violence in Shujai'iya that has been described by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, as a massacre; at least 60 people were killed in a ground offensive, although numbers are believed to be much higher. 
Many have fled, but have few safe places to go explains Azzam Al Saqqa, Christian Aid consultant in Gaza. 'In Gaza we do not have shelters; we do not have safe places where people can go. There are more than 50 schools and they are full of internally displaced people.  They are already overwhelmed. So people are staying with their relatives, who are not necessarily staying in safe areas.'
Christian Aid is explicit in its concern for the security of Israeli and Palestinians alike and publicly condemns the escalating violence by all sides.

To find out more about the appeal visit the Christian Aid website or text HELP to 70007 to give £5.

Baptist Times, 22/07/2014
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