Headline News


Humanitarian crisis in Gaza unfolding


Source: | 01-19-2009 14:31

Special Report:   Israel airstrikes in Gaza

Three weeks of violence in Gaza has ended. But the trauma in the minds of the people there needs more time to heal.

One day after the ceasefire, the media has been given access to cover the aftermath of the conflict in the Palestinian territory.

A Palestinian child wounded in the Israeli offensive arrives at the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.(AFP/Khaled Desouki)
A Palestinian child wounded in the Israeli offensive
arrives at the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza
Strip and Egypt.(AFP/Khaled Desouki)

Once the fighting abated, many Gaza residents fleeing the troubled territory have begun heading back home.

The road leading to this little boy's home is still recognizable among the rubble and debris. But the house is no longer the same. Although psychologically prepared, the mother said the destruction exceeded their expectations.

Mother of displaced Gaza family, said, "We have never seen such destruction, they just destroyed everything, they didn't leave anything. When the cease-fire began we said we have to come back to our houses, what, I mean, should we stay at somebody else's home?"

Many other Gaza families have also ventured back to examine what's left of their houses. But the situation is grave. Gaza municipal officials say a preliminary count shows 20,000 buildings severely damaged... and 4,000 destroyed. The reconstruction looms as an even more severe challenge for these families which just survived the war.

With the ceasefire in effect, humanitarian aid has begun trickling into the Gaza Strip. But officials with the UN Refugee Work Agency in Gaza say the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is just unfolding.

Adnan Abu Hasna, UNRWA spokesman in Gaza, said, "The humanitarian situation in Gaza is still difficult. We have a humanitarian problem here. We still have also 50,000 people in our emergency shelters in our schools. Those people who fled their homes, a little bit of them, a few numbers of them have left the schools to their homes and have found that their shelters or their homes have been destroyed, completely destroyed, so they come back to our schools."

Even the UN agency's facilities in Gaza have been heavily damaged.

Chris Gunness, UNRWA spokesman in Gaza, said, "Our initial assessment is that 53 of our installations have either been damaged or totally destroyed. Of course our main warehouse in Gaza was completely burnt down. We also have health clinics and warehouses which have been damaged so it is an initial assessment, a significant number of those were direct hits."

According to UN and Palestinian medics, some 1,200 Palestinians were killed and more than 5,000 others were wounded during the three weeks of fighting. More than half of those dead are civilians.


Editor:Zhang Yun