Islamic Relief report highlights severe damage to Gaza projects and profound psychological impact on children
· Hatem Shurrab of Islamic Relief Palestine in Gaza City available for interview
A hospital, a school and agricultural projects recently renovated by Islamic Relief are among the buildings and programmes damaged or destroyed by the recent bombardment of Gaza, says a report published by the charity today. Eight Days in Gaza: The Impact of the Conflict (see web link in notes to editors) catalogues widespread damage that will require extensive rebuilding, and says the psychological well-being of traumatised children will be hard to restore. Islamic Relief is urging both sides in the conflict to maintain the ceasefire and constructive talks so that rebuilding can begin and humanitarian needs can be more effectively met.
“It would be easy to be disheartened by how much damage has been done in just eight days but we are encouraged by the bravery and dedication of our staff in Gaza during the bombardment and the generous response of our supporters around the world,” says Mohammed Al-Sousi, head of Islamic Relief’s Middle East region. “It is vital to maintain the ceasefire so that the injured can be treated safely and effectively, infrastructure can be rebuilt and constructive talks can take place to address problems such as chronic shortages of fuel and medical supplies and the movement restrictions that contribute to high levels of poverty and unemployment in Gaza.”
The impact of this month’s conflict, captured in Eight Days in Gaza, includes:
· 163 Palestinians killed and over 1,200 injured
· 213 houses destroyed or severely damaged, and another 1,500 in need of repair
· 41 schools and two kindergartens damaged, disrupting the education of 25,000 children. Among those affected is the 1,400-pupil Um Al-Qura primary school, renovated and equipped to a high standard by Islamic Relief after the 2008 conflict but badly damaged again in 2012
· Two hospitals hit by missiles, and others suffering damage. One of those hit was the 36-bed Beit Hanoun Hospital in northern Gaza, whose emergency department was renovated and refurbished by Islamic Relief in 2010
· Significant damage to some agricultural projects, with crops ruined and trees uprooted. This includes the destruction of a large well renovated by Islamic Relief in northern Gaza that 20 poor families relied on to irrigate their vegetable and citrus fruit crops
· Reports of many children screaming and crying during the aerial bombardment, with concerns over lasting psychological damage. “The attacks affected us all, young and old, but the impact on children is always more worrying and will probably stay with them for a long time,” says Muna Abed, coordinator of the Islamic Relief Psychosocial Support Centre in Gaza. “It will take months to observe the extent of their trauma as we witness problems like poor concentration and bedwetting.”
For information, photos and interviews contact Martin Cottingham (07974-109914 / email@example.com) or Safiya Sayed Baharun (07872-403534 / Safiya.firstname.lastname@example.org). / more.....
NOTES TO EDITORS
· Islamic Relief launched a £5 million global appeal at the start of the conflict to raise funds for vital medical supplies, and our donors are responding generously. In the coming days we will be assessing the extent of the damage and increasing our fundraising target to include reconstruction and support programmes.
· Eight Days in Gaza can be downloaded from the Islamic Relief website at http://www.islamic-relief.com/WhoWeAre/Files/Eight%20Days%20in%20Gaza%20-%20The%20Impact%20of%20the%20Conflict%20-%20Islamic%20Relief_tr3bh3ta.hja.pdf.
· The report includes extracts from the daily updates of Hatem Shurrab, who was tweeting throughout the bombardment (@HatemShu) and is available for telephone/Skype interviews.
· A short video featuring our provision of medical supplies to Gaza’s hospitals is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONIGaAKdggs&feature=youtu.be
ISLAMIC RELIEF IN GAZA
Islamic Relief has been working in the Palestinian Territories since 1994, and opened an office in Gaza City in 1998. Our work includes helping vulnerable communities improve their livelihoods through agricultural projects, vocational training programmes, microfinance loans and cash-for-work schemes. Islamic Relief donors sponsor over 4,000 orphans in Gaza. We also provide psychosocial support for children traumatised by violence and instability; health checks and treatment; daily milk and nutrition for preschool children; and a number of projects to improve access to education.
ISLAMIC RELIEF AND THE 2008 WAR
When the latest escalation of violence began, the population of Gaza was still recovering from the 22-day war in December 2008. That conflict claimed 1,400 lives, left 5,000 injured and displaced 40,000 people from their homes. Four thousand buildings were destroyed and another 17,000 were damaged, as were schools, wells and water supplies. Islamic Relief worked throughout the 22-day war delivering vital aid, including 7,000 meals and 80,000 food packages, to vulnerable families. Since that war Islamic Relief has worked to rebuild some of the infrastructure that was severely damaged or destroyed through a £30 million rehabilitation programme. We rehabilitated 40 health clinics, repaired 22 schools and provided 80,000 people with a new water supply in Khan Younis.
ISLAMIC RELIEF IN THE LATEST CONFLICT
Islamic Relief has delivered £1 million worth of medical supplies to hospitals dealing with casualties from the 2012 conflict. These include essential drugs, such as antibiotics and anaesthetics, and disposable sterile supplies such as tubing, surgical gloves, needles and syringes. We have also supplied extra blankets, canned meat and other food supplies to hospitals struggling to cope with the current crisis.
WIDER HUMANITARIAN CHALLENGES
Ongoing restrictions on life in Gaza contribute to high levels of poverty and deprivation:
· The 1.7 million population have very limited access to the outside world. There is no free movement by air, sea or land
· A blockade since 2007 has led to a shortage of basic supplies and a severe fuel shortage
· 80% of the population are dependent on humanitarian aid
· Hundreds of injured patients cannot leave Gaza for medical treatment
· Hospitals and health clinics suffer from a chronic shortage of medical supplies
· Unemployment stands at 45%, one of the highest rates in the world.
November 24 2012