World Vision distributes aid in Gaza, fears for children

By agency reporter
February 3, 2009

More than 9,000 people will benefit from World Vision relief trucked into Gaza over the weekend, the aid agency’s first to get into the territory since the recent conflict began.

Distributions of 1,144 emergency kits for families affected by the recent conflict, containing candles and food for up to a month, will begin today by local staff in southern Gaza’s Rafah area. Another shipment is planned for North Gaza this week, to reach a further 9,000 people.

Food, blankets and candles are among items most urgently needed by people living in Gaza because of the damage to the infrastructure and a widespread loss of basic possessions. Items in World Vision’s kits include canned tuna and beef, vegetable oil, beans, lentils, tea and biscuits. They also include a picture brochure, printed in Arabic, warning families about the dangers of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and how to recognise and avoid it.

“As we meet these vulnerable households’ immediate needs, we also call for conditions that will allow recovery for families throughout Gaza – most urgently for the opening of all border crossings to full capacity to permit humanitarian aid and specialists,” said Charles Clayton, National Director of World Vision Jerusalem.

World Vision is one of 13 agencies appealing to the British public, through the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), for donations to relief work in Gaza.

World Vision emergency relief within Gaza has already reached more than 3,000 people in vulnerable households with food supplies for several weeks.
A shipment of 5,000 blankets is prepared for delivery this week, and hygiene kits will follow.

A recent World Vision study, released just before the recent conflict, revealed high rates of trauma among children in Gaza, largely induced by fear. More than 16 per cent of children aged 5-15 in north Gaza suffered from recurrent nightmares, the study showed, the majority of which (76.7 per cent) are caused by fear. Almost 13 per cent of children in the same age suffered from anxiety-induced bed-wetting.

World Vision UK’s Head of Emergency Affairs, Ian Gray, said since the bombing began on December 27, the impact on children was getting worse.

“Initial assessment reports from our staff in Gaza suggest children have suffered immensely over the past few weeks; witnessing horrific violence, watching parents die, losing their houses, becoming separated from families and being cut off from access to important social institutions like school.”

In response, World Vision will be setting up Child Friendly Spaces in both the north and south of Gaza, to give children safe spaces to visit, play with other children and begin to process the trauma they’ve been exposed to.

“Child Friendly Spaces are an important first step in the normalising process for hundreds of children in Gaza, as we try to help mitigate the potential long-term damage done by the recent conflict,” said Ian.

Give a disaster emergency kit through World Vision here

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