A recent flight of emergency relief supplies for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip carried not just hygiene kits and other supplies from Dubai to Jordan, but also a special passenger: UNRWA goodwill ambassador Mohammed Assaf, Arab Idol winner and popular singer from Gaza’s Khan Younis camp, where several families have been wiped out in the continuing violence. Upon landing in Jordan, he made an emotional plea for the people of Gaza.
"There is pain in my heart from what is happening in my town and to my people in my beloved home, Gaza . No words can describe what I feel, how the Arab world feels, how the world feels. Now we all have to help my beloved people in Gaza, all those who suffer in Gaza, all those who suffer under the attacks. My thanks to all, everywhere: We have to help Gaza stand up on its feet one more time. Gaza is strong. Gazans are heroes. They always get back on their feet after they have been destroyed. That is the Gaza I trust. The number of people who have been killed is so immense, civilians, children, women, elderly. It is a very bad situation."
The pitiless violence unleashed since hostilities escalated on 7 July continues to devastate the people of Gaza. Large swaths of neighbourhoods east of Gaza City are reduced to rubble. The eastern and northern areas of Gaza are virtually empty of civilians and have turned into combat zones.
By the time of the Eid al-Fitr holiday in July 2014, the number of Palestinians taking refuge in UNRWA shelters had more than tripled the peak tally from the 2008/9 conflict, with 85 facilities housing 200,337 internally displaced people – more than 10 per cent of the entire population of Gaza. UNRWA staff continue their work to support the people in the shelters, providing the displaced with food, water, mattresses and hygiene kits, even as Agency staff and facilities remain vulnerable. Five UNRWA staff have been killed in the conflict, and an attack on a school designated as an emergency shelter killed 15 people.
UNRWA is also overseeing the delivery of emergency relief supplies. The International Humanitarian City in Dubai is coordinating airlifts of aid with several organizations. To date, 18 aircraft have arrived in Jordan with desperately needed relief supplies: 5 Cargo 747 jets, 12 transport aircraft and an airbus from the Bahrain Royal Charity Organization. The relief flights have delivered 126,500 blankets, 98,000 sleeping mats, 15,000 family food packages and more than 120 million tons of medicine.
From Jordan, the supplies are carried by truck to Gaza, where UNRWA is distributing urgently needed items to thousands of vulnerable displaced families. While several convoys have been able to reach Gaza, the intense need for food, medical supplies and other emergency equipment is only increasing. To help us provide desperately needed supplies, please donate: http://www.unrwa.org/donate