During the past week I traveled to Gaza to assist with the logistics and coordination of the relief distributions as the first non-Gazan from CRS to gain access since the recent conflict erupted.
It was liberating to finally get into the Gaza and spend a few days with the CRS team; but simultaneously disheartening to witness the devastation first hand –from health clinics, apartment buildings, schools, and mosques to government buildings and individual farm houses.
Even worse are the deeper, more personal effects on the overall civilian population, which can be seen despite their best attempts to put forward a courageous face. To witness the consequences of war on TV is simply not the same as seeing and feeling the brutal effects on individual people.
Despite the daunting situation, the sheer determination of our CRS staff and local partners continues to be inspiring; in the face of extremely challenging circumstances, they have been able to persist with our continuing relief operations.
CRS, in partnership with a network of local organizations, is responding to the current humanitarian crisis in Gaza with packages of food, hygiene materials, blankets, candles and other necessities. Despite challenges with access to the tightly guarded area, CRS has been able to carry out emergency distributions this past week in cities in North, Central, and South Gaza that served over 5,000 individuals. Additional distributions are planned for the coming days for an additional 2,500 beneficiaries.
The need is still immense within Gaza and will require ongoing efforts to address food shortages, the rebuilding of infrastructure, and the reconstruction of homes destroyed in the fighting. In the short term, CRS plans to continue distributions of aid packages, while supporting partners in locally-led community clean-up and home repair initiatives throughout Gaza’s five governorates.
This is not the end for Gaza, but rather a beginning of a long rebuilding process on so many levels.