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Mercy Corps Sends Relief to Hungry Gazans
Upcoming shipment will provide 1,800 Gazans with urgently needed food
Program Manager for Gaza Strip calls humanitarian situation “the worst I’ve ever seen.”
PORTLAND, Ore. - January 2 - The global relief and development agency Mercy Corps will deliver urgently needed food basics to 1,800 people living in the conflict-ridden Gaza Strip. Pending approval from Israeli authorities, the agency will send four tons worth of rice, canned tuna, dates and soy oil to Gaza via the Kerem Shalom border crossing in southern Israel.
Mercy Corps expects to begin distributions by Monday. The food will be provided to impoverished and war-affected people in Gaza, focusing on the injured, displaced, elderly or families with young children. The agency notes that this planned distribution effort could be disrupted by the introduction of Israeli ground troops into Gaza, which would complicate logistics and security.
"These goods are sorely needed by Gazan families," says David Holdridge, Mercy Corps' regional program director for the Middle East. "Most people are running out of food. They cannot get to markets or bakeries because they fear for their safety, and those who can get out are often faced with bare shelves or prohibitively long lines."
Mercy Corps' program manager for the Gaza Strip, Isdud Najjar, calls the humanitarian situation "the worst I've ever seen." From her Gaza City home, which she and her family have not left since the violence started, Al Najjar reports a lack of electricity, food and heat, and extreme anxiety caused by ongoing explosions.
"People are afraid to go out on the streets. This is particularly difficult for the poor and those who rely on outside food assistance - up to 80 percent of the population. They simply cannot get the supplies that they need," explains Al Najjar.
Even before the current military action began, Mercy Corps programs were inhibited because of the frequent closures of the Gazan borders, which led to fuel rationing and electricity and water shortages.
According to news reports, this week's violence has killed more than 400 people and created widespread panic among civilians. This has caused Mercy Corps to refocus its efforts in the Gaza Strip to meet immediate humanitarian needs.
Until the violence began earlier this week, the agency had been running short-term employment initiatives, psychosocial programs for youth, and a project connecting Palestinian youth with American high school students. These programs have all been temporarily halted.
HOW TO HELP:
Gaza Crisis Fund
PO Box 2669
Portland, OR 97208