Just before the violence in Gaza escalated earlier this month, a Direct Relief shipment of medical aid was received by longtime partner organization American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA). The donation – valued at $1.4 million (wholesale) – included antibiotics, pain killers, and anti-hypertensive medicines.
An email message received from Jennifer Ibrahim, ANERA’s Director of Programs, sums up the crucial timing of this donation:
“Amazingly the Direct Relief air shipment made it to Gaza just before the border closed (like minutes before). The borders have opened up since then for humanitarian supplies, but it’s still a success story. Mostafa [a staffer] braved the eerily empty streets yesterday to go to the warehouse and was able to distribute half of the shipment to six hospitals/clinics that sent their ambulances to pick up the medicine. We are SO thankful that this Direct Relief shipment arrived when it did . . . the sooner we can start working on the next one the better.”
Founded in 1968 as an apolitical and nonsectarian development assistance organization, ANERA operates health, nutrition, education, and employment programs for disadvantaged, impoverished, and displaced families caught in regional conflicts throughout the Middle East.
Support of their work is critical as the recent escalation of violence between Israel and Hamas has put a heavy strain on Gaza’s already fragile health care system. The Palestinian territory, which regularly experiences shortages of medicines, medical disposables, and fuel supplies, is now struggling to cope with the sharp increase in medical emergencies and other health-related needs of those affected by the fighting.
The civilian population of Gaza is comprised of around 1.6 million people, 75 percent of whom are women and children. These residents are confined in an overcrowded war zone and often have to evacuate their homes to seek cover in safer areas. Even if people do not experience direct physical injury, they can become ill due to sheltering in crowded and unsanitary conditions, drinking contaminated water, or not having access to the pharmaceuticals and medical supplies needed to control chronic conditions.
Direct Relief has supported ANERA’s healthcare-related efforts since 2004, providing medical goods to hospitals, clinics, and refugee camps in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, and Jordan.
With no end to the fighting in sight, Direct Relief and ANERA have begun to process another delivery of essential medical products for people in Gaza affected by the conflict.