In July 2014, the International Transportation Federation (ITF) and OXFAM Canada called on the Canadian Labour Congress and its affiliates for immediate humanitarian assistance to the peoples of Gaza caught in the bombing raids. The SJF responded by providing $5,000 to the ITF and another $5,000 to OXFAM.
The ITF appeal was built on the successful experience it had during the 2009 conflict, when the ITF was able to get several cargo loads of medical supplies and ambulances into Gaza. The SJF supported that appeal in 2009. The ITF also included a solidarity fund to help train and organize a transport workers union in Gaza during its recent appeal.
Ten months since the conflict began and more than eight months since the ceasefire, OXFAM reported that the situation in Gaza remained desperate. Around 100,000 people, more than half of them children – are still displaced as their homes have been destroyed. People’s livelihood, such as farming and fishing have been devastated. Vital water and sanitation infrastructure, schools and health facilities that were destroyed, have yet to be rebuilt.
More than ever, Gaza's fishermen are struggling to make a living. Years of restrictions on their movement and livelihoods have taken a heavy toll, and the latest escalation in violence has made things worse. At least 32 boats and 1,000 nets have been destroyed, affecting the livelihood of 3,600 families. Sabri Baker, 53, said, "Before this military operation started, the situation was already very bad. Now my boat is gone I have nothing at all. I really do not know what will I do now, or how I will even provide food to my children.”
OXFAM has helped more than one third of the population in Gaza, i.e. 660,000 people. At the peak of the crisis, OXFAM delivered safe drinking water by truck, installed generators to pump water and replaced damaged water systems. It has continued to support its health program, working with partners to support mobile health clinics, health centres and Al Awda hospital with fuel, water and medical supplies.
During the conflict 11-year-old Manar and her family fled their house, which was completely destroyed. “I lost everything I love in the house. My happiness went under the rubble. I hoped to find some of my happiness in my school, but on my first day back the damage shocked and scared me. The classes are overcrowded and the water leaks in when it rains. But I love my school. Having a proper house and school again might help me to forget all the bad days we have lived through since the war.”
As Gaza moves from emergency assistance to longer term recovery, the need for international support will be greater than ever. The SJF is currently studying options to support long term reconstruction. Our partner, OXFAM warns however, that full recovery from the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza will be impossible unless Israel’s blockade is lifted permanently.
[Photos: Lyad Al Baba/Oxfam]