Distributing assistance to thousands in the Gaza Strip

Palestine (West Bank/Gaza)

July 23, 2014

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  • Mercy Corps staff help distribute emergency supplies to civilians. Photo: Assad El Saftawi

Note: This article was originally published on July 23 and updated on July 29 to reflect the latest figures of those displaced inside Gaza and Mercy Corps' ongoing response.

Mercy Corps's emergency response in Gaza continues to reach thousands of displaced people everyday who are quickly running out of food and supplies.

Since the conflict began in early July, more than 200,000 Gazans have fled increasing attacks, and civilian casualties keep mounting.

With our 87 national team members and a network of over 50 community organizations, Mercy Corps has the largest NGO presence on the ground in Gaza next to the U.N., and our dedicated local staff have already risked their own lives to reach over 1,500 families with emergency aid in the last two weeks.

While we are working to address the humanitarian crisis unfolding inside Gaza, we are deeply concerned about the safety of innocent civilians on all sides of the conflict and have joined the international community to call for lasting cease-fire.

Our team on the ground reports that East Gaza villages are virtually abandoned, and families are seeking safety together in large buildings. “They’re moving into schools, unfinished apartment buildings, empty commercial buildings, warehouses where 30-40 people are sleeping,” said Stuart Willcuts, Mercy Corps’ Emergency Response Team Leader for Gaza.

Terrified to leave these shelters, Gazans are facing food and water shortages that will only get worse by the day. A severe lack of electricity is also hampering their ability to cook or properly sanitize food before it’s prepared.

We’ve been distributing emergency food and supply packages including tuna, beans, dates, cheese, powder milk, rice, pasta, oil, and other basic necessities like blankets, baby wipes and diapers, detergent and hygiene items.

The volatile security situation limits our movements, but our team members — along with community-based organizations we have long-term partnerships with — have been able to deliver 300-400 packages a day to displacement sites. We are working to reach 5,000 families — approximately 40,000 people.

“All of this is being done during active conflict,” Willcuts noted. “The challenge is one of distribution during an ongoing battle.”

While our team in Gaza works through these tremendous logistical and security challenges, our longer-term programs are currently suspended. At the same time we know that hundreds of thousands of children are experiencing significant trauma. Our team will be ready to expand our existing psychosocial programs to help young survivors as soon as it is safe to do so.

How you can help

Make a gift to support Mercy Corps' emergency response work in Gaza and around the world. You'll help families survive the crisis here and the hardships they face in many of the world's toughest places. Donate today ▸