CARE's Work in West Bank and Gaza
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Latest Press Release
Lack of women’s participation an obstacle to recovery and peace in Gaza, says CARE
Increased participation by Palestinian women is crucial to creating a process towards peacefully resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and bringing sustainable development to the West Bank and Gaza.
Blog: A Bedtime Story For Rafiq
"I wasn’t able to evacuate at night because we could have been targeted. Everyone who walks the street, every car here can be a target. I have a three-year old son, Rafiq, and a daughter who is just five months old. Her name is Lana. It was a very hard decision to stay in our house, but what was I supposed to do?"
Crisis in the Gaza Strip
UPDATE - August 5: We’ve been responding on the ground providing medical services to civilians affected by the crisis. With the 72-hour cease fire announced this morning, we hope to reach more people through mobile health clinics.
Violence Escalates in Gaza
Over the past few weeks, Gaza and southern Israel have seen a severe escalation of violence. On the night of July 7th, the Israeli army launched a military operation in the Gaza strip while rockets continued to be fired at southern Israel from Palestinian territory. As of July 15th, the United Nations has reported 192 casualties, most of whom are civilians, including women and 36 children. More than 1,300 people have been injured in Gaza, of whom 386 are children and 249 women. A number of Israelis have suffered injuries as a result of the rocket fire.
So far, over 1,200 homes have been destroyed, and 24,500 people have been displaced from their homes, taking shelter in UNRWA schools, or with families and neighbours. Unfortunately, this number is expected to rise since the Israeli military has instructed Palestinians living near the Gaza border to evacuate their homes.
CARE West Bank/Gaza has temporarily suspended its regular work in Gaza and is coordinating with its partners on the ground to provide emergency assistance to the affected population when the security situation allows. The most urgent needs in Gaza are medical supplies, relief items such as mattresses and blankets, and safe shelters.
“In front of my kids and family, I act like I am not scared, so they don’t feel so stressed and depressed, but of course I am very worried and afraid,” says Mostafa Kahlout, CARE Economic Empowerment Program coordinator in Gaza. “I am scared for the life of my kids and wife, relatives, and our home.”
This escalation of violence puts a severe burden on children who are in many cases still traumatized from past clashes. “My youngest daughter is nearly eight, she’s only small and she just keeps looking at the ceiling and asking ‘why are they trying to kill us?’,” says Kahlout. “I say to her: ‘No one is going to kill us; it will all be over soon,’ trying to calm her down. But I don’t know when it will be over.”
On July 11, CARE joined with 33 other international organizations to call on all parties to immediately stop the violence and agree to a ceasefire. Humanitarian access must be guaranteed by all parties to the conflict in order to prevent further civilian suffering.
CARE International has been operating in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) since 1948. For the past several decades, we have been working in the oPt to assist the most vulnerable residents in meeting their basic food needs. The majority are women and girls who bear the brunt of conflict and poverty.
CARE's work in the West Bank and Gaza
CARE currently works throughout the Gaza Strip in poor communities affected by conflict whose security, human rights and livelihoods have been undermined by a naval and land blockade that was instituted in June 2007. We pay particular attention to women and girls who bear the brunt of conflict and poverty that affects 1.6 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Land and naval blockade has severely curtailed the ability of Gaza households to generate income, separated families, reduced educational opportunities and limited access to vital medical services. Today, people are still unemployed and underemployed, dependent on humanitarian aid and unable to travel abroad save for a very few pre-approved medical cases. Escalating violence increases peoples' suffering and further jeopardizes their security and ability to rebuild their livelihoods and reclaim their dignity.
Our programming helps the poorest and most vulnerable families meet their basic food needs, by providing fresh foods, health and social services. We also support families dependent on agriculture as their source of income, by introducing new techniques that improve the quantity and quality of their products; strengthening their ability to sell their products for fair prices; and empowering women to earn an income.
CARE also assists in mobilizing community leaders, young adult mentors and parents in an effort to improve the mental health, academic performance and social skills of children between the ages of 9-13 who have been traumatized by war.
In addition, we're helping strengthen the capacity of local organizations to support their neighbors in times of crisis, and to act as hubs of social, cultural and economic support.
CARE's response to recent conflicts
Gaza faced a major crisis in 2008. A violent conflict began on December 27, 2008, which caused the humanitarian situation to deteriorate. The three-week conflict resulted in nearly 1,000 civilian deaths and left thousands maimed and injured. CARE responded within hours agter the start of the conflict, distributing urgently-needed food, medicine and emergencies supplies to families, hospitals and orphanages. In early January 2009, we carried out one of the first surveys of the humanitarian situation in Gaza, showing a sobering 89 percent of respondents had not received assistance. We provided basic non-food items such as blankets, personal hygiene kits, and household cleaning supplies to Gazans displaced by the conflict, helping more than 211,894 people.
In November 2012, there was another spike in violence that lasted for eight days and caused civilians in Gaza and Israel to fear another widespread humanitarian disaster. CARE's office was damaged in air strikes. However, we continued our emergency response with 80,000 vulnerable residents of the Gaza Strip, while calling for an end to the violence along with other humanitarian agencies.
CARE has a long-term commitment to engage Palestinian communities in development processes that enable them to determine their futures, realize their rights and live in peace and dignity. CARE empowers Palestinian local organizations to become more effective advocates of their own interests and rights. CARE also promotes gender equality as a fundamental element of our work to fight poverty and improve standards of living.
For example, "Empowering Women - Transforming Communities, Bena'a" is a 36-month project in Gaza to contribute to poverty eradication and promote gender equality and women's empowerment. The project is carried out by building the capacity of local, grassroots organizations so they can advocate for the interests of, and strengthen the social, political and economic roles of women in their communities.
In addition, CARE advocates for conflict mitigation and work with various audiences to create a network of Palestinian women, men, children, and community-based organizations that are skilled in developing conflict mitigation and resolutions.
How CARE works in emergencies
RESPONDING TODAY, PREPARING FOR TOMORROW
In 2011 alone, CARE reached 12 million people affected by natural disasters, conflict situations and other crises.