Gaza: ACT starts risky food distribution

Friday, January 16, 2009

458-IMG2816.jpgACT International is ready to launch a major humanitarian campaign inside Gaza. On Monday distribution of food and water, medicines and blankets will start. ACT will cooperate with local organizations and foundations to carry out the dangerous distribution. At the same time, ACT is assisting Palestinians in exile, struggling to get 330 tons of food into Gaza. The trucks are denied access from the Egyptian border. Now, the food has to be moved to Israel before new access to Gaza.

Dr. Andre Batarseh, director of East Jerusalem YMCA, is responsible for the high risk distribution of food and medicine. On his trucks are 8,000 blankets; a very important part of loads. “People have run from their homes and seek shelter at schools or at friends or relatives. They have no cover during ice-cold nights. The blankets are life saving”, Dr. Batarseh says. On the trucks are 100,000 bottles of water and food for 25,000 people, everything from canned food and fortified milk to cooking oil and water.

Sanitation break down
After the break down of sanitation in Gaza, ACT will distribute water-sanitation hygiene kits. Many organizations have left Gaza. Among those who are left is ACT-member DanChurchAid, busy with distribution of vegetable baskets and canned food in Jablaya camp. The working conditions are complicated. 40 000 people have been displaced and all Gaza City's health facilities and electricity supply have been disrupted. ACT also assists the Union of Health Care Committees, that lost three mobile clinics in bomb attacks.

Help for traumatized children
ACT International is also preparing psychosocial support for displaced and traumatized children. The organization has contributed this type of support to many responses, to help children return to normal life.

Food to Gaza denied
ACT is struggling with getting 330 tons of food into Gaza. The 11 trucks of food are from the small Norwegian emergency organization, Innocent. The organization is run by immigrants, mostly Palestinians. The food was denied access to Gaza from the Egypt border. ACT International has taken the responsibility to get the food in, and get it distributed. Now it has to be reloaded to Israeli trucks and transported to the Kerem Shalom gate, where it again has to be reloaded to Palestinian trucks. It has been a hard work through the last days with Egyptian and Israeli diplomacy and bureaucracy.