On 14 November 2012, Israel launched an eight-day war on the Gaza Strip. Within just over a week, more than 165 Palestinians, including 100 innocent civilians, were killed. Tens of thousands of Gazans fled their homes in fear and daily life was brought to a standstill until a ceasefire was reached. As families returned to their homes, many struggled with the trauma of having to flee and hundreds more still remained displaced. The injured who sought medical care were unable to receive immediate medical treatment as hospitals and clinics experienced a shortage in medicines and medical supplies.
CNEWA’s operating agency in the Middle East, The Pontifical Mission for Palestine (PMP), implemented a rapid needs assessment in collaboration with partner institutions immediately after a ceasefire was declared to determine the most urgent needs. Generous assistance from PMP donors contributed close to $400,000 towards the emergency program; PMP’s psychosocial program absorbed the majority of donor funds followed by medical support and emergency home repair for families and local institutions in Gaza. The PMP gratefully acknowledges its donors who pledged their support for the program: Manos Unidas, Misereor, Archdiocese of Cologne, Kinderhilfe Bethlehem, Kindermissionwerk, and other benefactors, some of whom wish to remain anonymous.
Provided therapy for school children and guidance for parents
The PMP and in partnership with CTCCM — a local mental health provider that networks with local schools in Gaza in addition to trained counselors from NECC Mother and Child Clinics and Society of Women Graduates, provided psychosocial counseling at the three NECC Clinics, over 14 kindergartens, the YMCA and three Christian schools in Gaza. The psychosocial programs supported a total of 5,813 children, providing fun, child-friendly activities, “open days”, talent shows and other social events which served as treatment therapy specifically designed for traumatized children. The team of experts also screened the children for other mental health problems, learning disorders and vision and hearing problems while providing personal consultations and group workshops for parents and relatives to learn more about war and child trauma, warning signs of trauma in children and where to seek help. With donor support, the psychosocial programs helped children vent stress, provided access to medical help and helped build a stronger network between parents and their children.
Supply medicine and supplies for under stocked medical facilities and helped treat the poor
The largest healthcare providers in Gaza reported severe shortages of medicine and medical supplies which affected a wide range of divisions. The result of PMP’s rapid response immediately procured and stocked medicine used for emergency surgeries; drugs to treat infections for poor water quality and essential prenatal nutrition for pregnant women, among other medical supplies at its partner institutions: the three NECC Mother and Child Clinics and Al-Ahli Arab Hospital. The procured medicine treated 17,295 people -77% of patients treated were pregnant women, mothers and their newborns and children. Medicine was also delivered via NECC medical personnel to homes of victims who were unable to access medical facilities — over 70% of these cases where also women and children. Furthermore, in collaboration with Al-Ahli Arab Hospital Social Department, donor funds helped relieve 323 poor patients’ medical expenses at a time when they required urgent medical treatment and had limited to no financial coverage.
Renovate Damaged Public Service Institutions and Homes of the Needy
PMP and in partnership with NECC’s Social Assistance Department, provided small emergency grants to 44 needy families whose homes sustained war damage and deemed unlivable; 91 percent of the beneficiaries (40 families) were from Gaza City — an area which sustained some of the heaviest bombings during the war. Minor rehabilitation work included new windows, doors and interior modification as well as purchasing or repairing damaged furniture and appliances. Local institutions also received grants including the Latin Patriarchate Schools, the Rosary Sisters School and the Greek Orthodox Cultural Center that rehabilitated war damages; for example, the removal of contaminated debris, repaired broken or damaged windows, walls and doors, repaired classroom furniture and the installation of insulation for a rooftop which sustained water damage. With the successful implementation of the project, some 2,176 people were able to improve their livelihoods.