Three hours ‘not enough time’ to deliver aid needed in Gaza

Three hours ‘not enough time’ to deliver aid needed in Gaza

By staff writers
8 Jan 2009

The three hour ceasefire was simply not enough to deliver vital humanitarian aid Christian Aid and its Gaza based partners have said today.

Christian Aid partners report that they have seen very little benefit on the ground, and that the ceasefire was too short to make any real difference to the many desperate people who need help.

Many stated that people were too terrified to go out into the streets and believed that Israel would attack if they did.

Physicians for Human Rights – Israel also reported that there was not enough time for medical teams or medical personnel to get to everyone requiring assistance. Some medical teams were refused access to some areas, including those where families have been trapped for several days with the injured and dead.

Few Christian Aid partners say they are able to operate fully, and many were unable to restart operations within the limited time available.

There was also concern that, given the fact that vehicles travelling from the Egyptian border take at least 1.5 hours to reach Gaza City, there would not be enough time to transport supplies, let alone distribute them.

Movement of supplies between different areas is extremely difficult, as the Gaza Strip has now been divided into three isolated areas by the Israeli military, and some major roads have been destroyed.

Although the ceasefire was supposed to be in operation, Ahmed Sourani of Palestinian Agricultural Relief Services (PARC) could still hear shelling during the three hour period.

“Yesterday the three hour ceasefire gave us a chance to go to hospital, to get some supplies and visit each other. Thousands are injured and many killed. Three hours is not enough because not all the injured can be reached, particularly those in remote areas, they can’t be reached by ambulances and doctors, it is a terrifying issue; it is a humanitarian and critical issue. These are lives of people and children. Even the relatives of people injured and trapped cannot get to them” he said.

“All efforts are needed to create a new and permanent situation. There is no time for temporary solutions- these temporary solutions have been used in the past- they haven’t worked in the last 15 years. There should be serious pressure on key actors in the region. We need a real ceasefire agreement otherwise we will come back to square one. “

Essam from Christian Aid partner the Near East Council of Churches (NECC) which has been providing emergency medical care, said: “The situation is very miserable: our house is not a shelter; the school is not a shelter; the street is not a shelter; everywhere is dangerous, and nowhere is safe.

“Because Israel controls the entry and exit into the Gaza Strip, Palestinian civilians remain trapped with nowhere to flee to escape the onslaught of military attacks. Many areas in the Gaza Strip have been without electricity for 11 days, also impacting the ability to power the provision of water supplies and communications. All banks remain closed, limiting the ability to secure funds to purchase the dwindling supplies available in the market as a result of the ongoing siege. Hundreds of people queued for several hours today to purchase bread during the ceasefire, but were unable to get any."

Keywords: gaza
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