Delivery of emergency food and supplies continues amidst chaos

Palestine (West Bank/Gaza)

July 31, 2014

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  • Women in Gaza gather their belongings from the rubble of a recently-hit building. Photo: REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly

As the conflict in Gaza enters its fourth week, the humanitarian situation on the ground is growing worse with each passing day. It’s now estimated that 240,000 people are displaced within Gaza, most seeking shelter in crowded U.N. schools with few supplies.

Mercy Corps is concerned about the safety of innocent civilians on all sides of the fighting and we continue to call for a lasting cease-fire. Our team remains focused on helping families where the humanitarian need is greatest.

"Gaza is on the verge of collapse. There are virtually no safe places anymore,” said Stuart Willcuts, Mercy Corps’ Emergency Response Team Leader for Gaza, when we spoke to him this week.

Amidst the growing chaos, Mercy Corps’ team in Gaza is working through dangerous conditions to deliver emergency assistance to the most vulnerable families. Since we began emergency efforts this month, our team has reached 80,000 people with food and other essential items in Khan Younis, Rafah, Gaza City, and northern Gaza.

Living conditions for those displaced families are rapidly deteriorating as the conflict rages on. “As there are more people in the shelters, their square footage decreases,” said Willcuts. “People who cannot go to the shelters will often go to the hospitals and pitch a tent or hang blankets outside and just sleep on the ground because that feels like a safer place to be.”

Most families who have fled the violence carry little or nothing with them. “When they arrive at the shelters, warehouses, or abandoned apartment buildings -- wherever they have chosen to seek a safer place to hide -- they are in need of everything you might imagine to survive and retain a sense of normalcy and dignity,” said Ahmad Hegazy, one of Mercy Corps’ emergency responders. “And each time they have to run, it starts all over again.”

To help them through the conflict, our team is continuing to distribute packages of emergency food along with other items like soap, toothbrushes, diapers and towels.

For our staff working in Gaza, delivering those supplies is an ongoing struggle. “The other day, Mercy Corps staff were on an aid convoy in Eastern Gaza and a shell landed 30 meters from the truck. Shrapnel went all over,” said Willcuts. “They had a decision to make right then, whether to continue with the delivery or to turn around. But they knew people were waiting for what they were delivering and needed it badly. So they decided to press on.”

Many of our dedicated staff members have been personally affected by the current conflict. Some have sustained injuries or lost their homes, and many have seen family members perish. “Last week, one of my colleagues lost eight members of his family in one day,” said Hegazy. “Gazans are suffering. We feel unsafe, and the situation is escalating day by day. We don’t know when it is going to end.”

The challenges that the people of Gaza face keep mounting. There is now little to no electricity in Gaza, and what generators there are have no fuel to run. Families in hiding have few supplies, little food and water and are often too terrified to move.

Despite all of this, our team will be distributing much-needed supplies in the coming week. We will continue to assess the most urgent needs of displaced families in Gaza, and will expand our response as security conditions allow.

How you can help

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