The Catholic aid agency, CAFOD, has launched an Appeal following the escalation of violence in Israel and occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), and the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
People are being killed and thousands of homes are being destroyed – families will need urgent, practical help to recover. Funds raised will ensure life-saving aid can be transferred into Gaza, Israel and other parts of oPt as soon as access is available, and that local organisations have what they need to help those most affected.
The situation in Gaza is increasingly desperate with an urgent need for water, electricity and fuel. It is reported that residents are consuming contaminated water from wells, which could lead to the spread of waterborne disease, and vital services are on the brink of collapse. Over 3,000 Palestinians and 1,300 Israelis have been killed since the violence escalated and 1 million people are estimated to have fled their homes and are living in dire conditions in central and Southern Gaza.
CAFOD has worked for many years in both Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and is in regular contact with partners as the situation develops.
“Most of our employees have been forced to leave their homes,” said CAFOD’s local partner, Caritas Jerusalem, which has a number of staff in Gaza.
“Some have sought refuge in the Holy Family Compound in Gaza City, others in UNWRA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees) schools, and some in the homes of relatives and friends. Several of our employees’ houses have been completely demolished. They’re in shock, confused, and perplexed. They don’t have electricity, and the internet is sporadic.”
In a statement released this week, CAFOD joined 11 other major humanitarian agencies in calling for the UK to use its influence to help protect civilians caught up in the conflict and bring an end to the fighting.
CAFOD has also asked supporters to write to the UK Foreign Secretary, urging the UK plays its part in upholding international law, ensuring humanitarian aid can reach people in need, and working with other world leaders to secure a lasting peace for the region.
“We condemn the horrific killings and kidnappings led by Hamas and the scale of the Israeli government’s violent retaliation, which is causing more civilian deaths and injuries,” said Elizabeth Funnell, CAFOD’s Country Programmes Representative for the Middle East.
“We urge all parties to end the violence and abide by international law. This means protecting civilians, releasing hostages and not punishing innocent civilians by stopping food, fuel and water reaching Gaza.
“Right now, people are literally trying to stay alive. It’s virtually impossible for people to leave Gaza so there’s no way for civilians to escape the current Israeli bombardment. Thousands of people have begun to move to the south of Gaza, but the lack of food, water or shelter will have disastrous humanitarian consequences. Yesterday’s attack on Al Ahli Arab hospital is a shocking reminder of how nowhere in Gaza is safe.
“The situation for families in Gaza is extremely severe and our local experts in Gaza are already providing support where they can. The level of need is huge, and other partners will start to provide urgent help to people living there as soon as it is safe to do so.”
Pope Francis has also urged people to take the side of peace, saying during his weekly General Audience on 18 October: “War does not solve any problem, it only sows death and destruction, increases hatred, multiplies revenge. War erases the future.”
CAFOD is the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and part of Caritas International. It works with communities across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East to fight poverty and injustice. The agency works with people in need regardless of race, gender, religion or nationality (cafod.org.uk).
How you can help:
Read the joint statement issued by 12 aid agencies, including CAFOD on 14th October.