A look at Caritas in Gaza: Questions and Answers
Claudette Habesch is the Secretary General of Caritas Jerusalem, the national Caritas member in the Holy Land. She spoke to Caritas Internationalis about the work of Caritas Jerusalem in Gaza and how they were helping the survivors of the conflict between Hamas and Israel.
Palestinians survey a kindergarten destroyed after an Israeli air strike in Gaza January 8, 2009.
Describe the situation in Gaza today?
There was an intensification of military activity last night and that has left more innocent civilians dead or wounded. We’re hearing horrifying stories. Red Cross (ICRC)staff found four weak and scared children beside their mothers' bodies in houses hit by Israeli shelling in Zeitoun. But still world leaders fail to act.
Describe Caritas operations in Gaza?
We have a medical centre, six medical points, and a mobile clinic providing basic health care. There are six doctors, nine medical staff, seven volunteers, a co-ordinator to help us get aid across, and a counsellor. The mobile clinic is similar to an ambulance but has the type of things you’d find at your local doctors. It is run by two doctors, a health worker, and a lab technician.
What work have they been able to do during the attacks?
Over the past two days, the Caritas mobile clinic has treated 150 patients for minor sickness at UN schools, but also treated seven people wounded in the attacks. The medical centre is difficult to access for many people because of the attacks, so we’re relying on the mobile clinic.
What are the urgent needs?
The Caritas mobile clinic is currently well stocked, but have told us they will need new supplies after the weekend. We’re planning on getting a shipment to them through the UN on Monday.
Caritas clinics have been able to share supplies with local hospitals where there is urgent need. The hospitals have asked for gauze to treat burns victims and one has asked for food aid.
What plans has Caritas Jerusalem got to scale up its response?
Caritas Jerusalem is working with our global Caritas members to launch an appeal in the coming days for about $2 million to provide food and medicine to 4000 families across Gaza. We’ve already identified 1500 families in the south of the Strip who will receive aid.
The long-term needs will be medical help for the seriously wounded and counselling for the children who have lived through this.
Are you in contact with the local Church in Gaza?
Caritas Jerusalem have told the local parish priest Fr Manuel to use 20,000 Euros of Church money to provide with the basic needs of Christian and Muslim families living nearby.
Working through the Church, helping both Christian and Muslim families is very important as it sends out a message that there is another route than fanaticism.
What can people do?
Support the Caritas Internationalis appeal, urge your political representatives to push for peace, and remember all the people of the Holy Land, Muslim, Christian and Jew, in your prayers.
RESOURCESAnnual Report 2011Emergency GuidelinesEmergency Response Tool KitEmergency Appeals 2012Emergency Appeals 2011Emergency Appeals 2010Emergencies on Caritas BlogBridging the Gap between Policy and Practice