“We bore way more than what we can bear, more than what any human can bear” – ActionAid tells of urgent need of ceasefire in Gaza, where entire cities have been devastated
The last few days of truce in Gaza have provided a small sliver of hope for families. Many are mourning their dead, attending funerals, searching for supplies and some have even attempted to return North to assess the monumental damage to their homes and communities or return for supplies such as winter clothing for their children.
But with families and communities in Gaza facing the heartbreaking and dangerous prospect of more bombs being dropped tomorrow, ActionAid is extremely concerned to see discussions of a further truce or a ceasefire still ongoing today. After nearly two months under heavy bombardment and a siege that has left millions of people hanging on by a thread, only a ceasefire can meet the huge needs of millions of people and prevent further devastation for these civilians.
Fuad, ActionAid youth volunteer in Gaza, went back to his home during the pause, and described how he felt, finding his home in ruins, “My uncles were displaced, my cousins were displaced, and my father, mother, and siblings were displaced. Not only that, but [they] uprooted the trees and turned the greeneries into a grey colour. Our homes are not just bricks, they are sweet dreams and memories, they are family gatherings, they are our joy, they are our sadness, they are our illness, they are our well-being. They are the toil of our life. They are warmth in the cold and winter.
“We do not know why the house was bombed. And we don’t have any explanation for the reasons. Our house contained young civilians, men and young people, women and children whose dreams were simple – just to live a decent life and nothing more. All these dreams turned into a mirage and the toil of their lives turned into a pile of ash. What can we do? Where are we going? Where do we live? Where do we live after the house was our only shelter?”
OCHA reported that yesterday convoys carrying humanitarian supplies, fuel and cooking gas continued to enter Gaza from Egypt, albeit a trickle compared to the usual aid deliveries which entered Gaza before this latest crisis began. Supplies delivered so far have failed to meet the immense humanitarian needs of over 2.2 million people in Gaza, especially people in the North. Medical supplies are falling far short, and hospitals in the North are still yet to receive fuel.
Many in Southern Gaza are heavily injured, such as women like Lina who was pulled out from the rubble of her home in Gaza and making the journey to the south barefoot in only the clothes, she was standing up in. She said ‘We were pulled from under the rubble, so we were not able to take our shoes. We left barefoot. We could not believe that we were leaving with our children alive.’ Lina describes living in a camp, where there is no water, she is forced to sleep on the ground and her tent is being damaged by rainfall as the weather worsens, “The rain has impacted us. It rained twice, and these tents blew away. It is not only the lack of clothes or cold weather, but until now we have slept on the ground. There are young children, and there are no clothes for them.”
Without an ongoing truce or ceasefire, we are simply unable to meet the scale of needs in this humanitarian crisis. Our partners tell us that families are sharing one blanket between them and women who are about to give birth are going without the vital medical care they need.
Up to 1.8 million people, nearly 80% of the population, are estimated to be internally displaced, including Abu Hasan, an ActionAid staff member in Gaza who is living in a tent in a UN warehouse. As winter sets in, the weather has deteriorated and so have his family’s living conditions. Hasan said “I cannot begin to describe the horrible situation we are facing here. It is tragic; the situation is an absolute disaster. We were drenched in the rain yesterday. The tents and wood were all scattered. These tents were supported in a very basic way that cannot shelter anyone. Those who have money buy wood pallets and use nylon sheets for shelter. It was all destroyed and blew away, which made people suffer in the rain and cold.”
“The other problem is the spreading of diseases now. People are trying to get medicine for their children, but there’s no medicine in pharmacies. It’s an absolute disaster beyond anyone’s imagination. We bore way more than what we can bear, more than what any human can bear.’
Iman and her children are living in a shelter in South Gaza. As winter approaches, she fears conditions are getting worse, and with no heating or insulation, she and thousands of others are relying on support from humanitarian organisations to provide essentials.
“Conditions in the shelter are challenging, especially with the changing weather. The shelter is not equipped to handle temperatures, whether hot or cold.
“We are trying to improvise by using whatever materials are available to create warmth, such as additional layers of clothing or extra blankets. However, the limited resources make it challenging to ensure everyone’s comfort and well-being.”
Riham Jafari, Advocacy and Communications Coordinator at ActionAid Palestine said, “The pause has barely been enough time for the people of Gaza to catch their breath, bury their dead and find food for their children. If we are to be able to deliver aid effectively and support these people properly, we need a permanent ceasefire now. No more bombs raining down on families, homes, refugee camps, hospitals and schools. No more destruction. No more deaths. Only a ceasefire will allow us to provide sufficient aid to people in Gaza and help them start to rebuild their lives after months of destruction and pain – millions of lives depend on it.”
For more information and interviews with spokespeople, please contact: Tim Brunero, 0405 285 547 / [email protected]