Gaza: food, medicines, blankets and trauma therapists on their way

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

441-InjuredchildatAhli.jpgFood, medicine, blankets and trauma counselors are being loaded into trucks by ACT International and are headed for Gaza. In cooperation with UN agencies, ACT has prepared the much needed assistance and is awaiting permission from the Israeli army for the trucks to enter the blockaded area.

Vulnerable people including infants and small children, together with their mothers, are the highest priorities. The need for emergency psychosocial care within the war-torn area is overwhelming.

"The best therapy for children is to resume normal life," says ACT’s representative in Israel and Palestine, Liv Steinmoeggen. ACT members are sending social workers and other qualified professionals to organise everything from women’s groups to soccer matches.

Gaza markets are empty, caused by the war and the ongoing Israeli blockade. Even with cash, Palestinians can’t buy food. Trucks from ACT are now packed with tons of high energy biscuits for children. ACT will immediately start therapeutic feeding programmes for malnourished children, similar to interventions in hunger emergencies. ACT members report that there is a need for supplementary feeding for 80,000 preschool children, but only one in four children have received such supplements during the war.

Due to the complexity of the crisis and the potential for further violence, the distribution of food will be dangerous and complicated. ACT will operate together with UN agencies and distribute through Palestinian community representatives.

Emergency supplies including medicine and blankets are also needed at the Anglican Al Ahli Arab Hospital, reports Ms. Steinmoeggen. The hospital staff have been working around the clock, and nurses have been unable to care for even their own families, wounded by shrapnel from the bombs. During the bomb attacks windows have been blown out and patients are freezing in the winter temperatures.

The transport of food and medicines is just the first step in assisting the war-ravaged Gaza population. Asked how aid will be distributed once inside Gaza, Ms Steinmoeggen says she is afraid that it will be a dangerous operation.