Friday, January 09, 2009

Brethren grant to contribute to Church World Service aid in Gaza.

Brethren Disaster Ministries has requested an $8,000 grant to contribute to the work of Church World Service (CWS) in Gaza, to come from the Church of the Brethren's Emergency Disaster Fund. "As the active armed conflict continues between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, CWS is working with a number of partners to position humanitarian relief supplies for Palestinian refugees," said Brethren Disaster Ministries executive director Roy Winter in the grant request.

"The humanitarian situation is currently dire with limited movement of refugees being allowed," the request continued. "This grant will support a broad ecumenical effort to provide emergency food, medicine, and blankets. An expanded appeal is expected when Gaza is safe for relief agencies."

Through the Action by Churches Together coalition, CWS has participated in sending trucks to Gaza loaded with medicine, blankets, food, and energy biscuits for children. CWS said the supplies, along with trauma therapists, will be able to enter Gaza as soon as the Israeli Army gives permission.

As of Wednesday evening, Jan. 7, reports indicated that Israel would halt its bombing for a few hours each day to allow delivery of humanitarian aid. However, news reports yesterday said that UN aid convoys and humanitarian efforts by the International Red Cross have been attacked, and at least two aid workers have been killed.

According to a release today from the World Council of Churches, "The International Committee of the Red Cross says the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) is failing to fulfill its obligation under international law to help wounded civilians in Gaza. A United Nations relief agency suspended aid operations in Gaza after some of their facilities were targeted and two of their local staff killed by the IDF. Church-related facilities are not spared, as three DanChurchAid-supported mobile clinics bombed by the IDF show," the WCC reported.

CWS partners additionally have reported a need for supplementary feeding for 80,000 preschool children, but only one in four children has received such supplements, CWS said. The ACT representative in Israel and Palestine, Liv Steinmoeggen, also said emergency supplies including medicine and blankets are needed at the Anglican Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza. The hospital's windows were blown out during the attacks and patients there now are exposed to cold weather.

Some two thirds of the people now suffering in Gaza are refugees, CWS said. The organization today sent a letter to the governments of Israel and Egypt, urging them to allow civilians who want to leave the bloodshed to do so safely, and underscoring refugees’ right to protection and the need to open borders.

Source: 1/9/2009 Newsline Special

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