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Humanitarian Emergency in Gaza: SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL is mobilising to help the Palestinian victims of the conflict

Published on Tuesday 21 May 2024

21 MAY 2024

In Deir el-Balah, delivering aid despite constraints

In the central Gaza Strip town of Deir el-Balah, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL has installed its first water desalination plant, giving people independent access to drinking water. At the same time, the delivery of humanitarian aid, already strictly limited since the start of the conflict, became almost impossible after the Israeli armed forces took control of Rafah on Tuesday May 7. This event, and the ongoing fighting, have further exacerbated the precarious situation of the Palestinians in Gaza, who have been forced to flee once again.

Seven months after the start of the war in Gaza, the humanitarian situation in the enclave is catastrophic. More than 35,000 civilians have lost their lives under the massive bombardment, and at least 78,000 have been wounded¹. To survive, 1.7 million Palestinians have been forced to flee their destroyed homes, a tragedy quickly compounded by the lack of food and water. “When you drive along the coastal road between Rafah and Deir el-Balah, it’s a shock to see this expanse of tents and makeshift shelters made of bits of wood and tarpaulins on the beach,” confides Anne-Sophie Morel, field coordinator for SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL in Gaza.

Palestine, Gaza Strip

Context and action
  • 2.3 million inhabitants
  • 111st out of 191 on the Human Development Index
  • 18,667 people
water desalination plant

After distributing bottled water in Deir el-Balah, our NGO, which works in Gaza to support displaced persons, organized a food distribution and set up a continuous water trucking service in a site for displaced persons. More recently, our teams installed a first water desalination plant near the Al-Aqsa hospital. The treated water supplies six taps, giving Gazans access to drinking water. An essential intervention at a time when conditions of access to water, hygiene and sanitation are more than critical in the enclave, exposing Gazans to epidemics. “Between water leaks, waste and considerable pipework problems, the soil is becoming a terrible breeding ground for bacteria, especially as temperatures begin to rise, warns Anne-Sophie Morel

In the north of the enclave, the situation is extremely alarming. Our teams on the ground and their local partners are continuing their efforts to gain access to the 300,000 Palestinians trying to survive in what is now a field of ruins. But the delivery of humanitarian aid, already strictly limited since the start of the conflict, has become almost impossible since Tuesday May 7, when Israeli armed forces took control of the Rafah crossing. With the Rafah crossing now closed, the very few convoys allowed into the south can now only enter via Kerem Shalom. In addition, fuel shortages are preventing aid from being transported into the enclave, where forced displacement continues as military developments unfold. In the space of a week, over 360,000 people have been forced to abandon the makeshift shelters they had set up in the emergency in Rafah². These repeated displacements exacerbate the humanitarian crisis each time.

¹ Le Monde
² As of May 13, près de 360 000 personnes ont fui Rafah, dans le sud de Gaza, selon l’UNRWA | ONU Info

12 march 2024

Since February 21, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL’s emergency team has been present in Gaza to assess the needs of people displaced by the conflict and to prepare, in collaboration with local partners, an appropriate humanitarian response.

It is imperative that humanitarian aid be provided immediately and permanently in the Gaza Strip“, warns Philippe Bonnet, Director of Emergencies at SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL.

The needs on the ground are considerable. 1.7 million Gazans have been forced to move to the Southern Governorates¹. The same number of people are now housed in emergency shelters, or in informal sites under makeshift shelters built from salvaged materials. In the Central and Northern Governorates, the situation is becoming just as critical. Gazans are moving in large numbers to the center, an intermediate zone where the remaining inhabitants, displaced persons from the North and returnees who have left Rafah now live side by side, in fear of the new offensive that might happen. In the North, the current and future difficulties of access to the residents give cause for concern.   

In view of this situation, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL wishes to intervene throughout the territory to cover the needs of all Gazans, especially those lacking drinking water. Some only have access to an average of two liters of water per person per day, when a minimum of 7.5 liters is needed to survive². Many are therefore forced to turn to unsafe water sources, a situation that raises fears of the spread of epidemics. In fact, over 236,000 cases of acute diarrhoea have already been recorded, in addition to over 9,900 cases of acute jaundice, including cases of hepatitis A³.

This concern is all the greater when we consider that in the many sites for displaced people in the southern governorates, an extremely limited number of latrines and showers are functional, driving the inhabitants to practices that increase the health risks“, notes Philippe Bonnet.

The situation does not stop there, however, with major needs for essential hygiene products, especially for those most at risk: the elderly, women and children. To cope with the shortage of drinking water, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL is planning to use water trucks to deliver water to sites where it is not available. In response to the emergency, 14 pallets of water (7,112 bottles) were distributed on March 12, at a site where drinking water was lacking. Emergency latrines and showers will also be built or rehabilitated to improve sanitary conditions in the camps. In a similar vein, hygiene kits will be distributed. Our teams already started these activities a few days ago in Deir El Balah, in the center of the Gaza Strip.   

Everywhere, inhabitants are short of food. Their personal stocks have run out, most food shops have closed and inflation is rising. The World Food Program is sounding the alarm: 9 out of 10 households have already gone at least one day and one night without food⁴. SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL is committed to supporting displaced people: by distributing ready-to-eat food rations, by supporting communal kitchens in collective centers, or by providing the products and manpower needed to prepare and distribute hot meals. Food kits have also been prepared and are stored in Amman, Jordan, ready to be dispatched as soon as the situation allows.

The aim of our NGO’s intervention is clear: to provide, with the help of local partner organizations, vital and dignified assistance to people affected by the conflict in the Gaza Strip.

¹UNRWA Situation Report #82, 02/24/24
²SPHERE Standard
³Health Cluster Dashboard as at 02/29/24
WFP Rapid Assessment, November 2023

5 marCH 2024

After five months of war, more than 30,000 civilians, 70% of them, women and children, have lost their lives, and more than 70,000 have been wounded. More than 90% of Gazans are thought to have moved south* to escape the fighting. Many have lost everything. Those who were unable to escape face unspeakable hardship. The suffering of the population is massive and the humanitarian situation is catastrophic. 2.2 million people are threatened with starvation* and health conditions are deplorable, increasing the risk of epidemics.

Faced with this situation, which is getting worse day by day, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL is taking action. A team arrived in Gaza on 21 February to assess local needs and rapidly launch an emergency response. This analysis will enable us to set up our humanitarian response.

On arriving in Rafah, our team quickly began its assessment, visiting sites sheltering displaced people. They [sites] are scattered all over the city, along the roads, on the pavements, in the squares, in the gardens of the houses everywhere, explains Philippe Bonnet, head of emergencies for SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL. These people have lost everything and depend on the solidarity of the local communities and the interventions of humanitarian actors (local, international, etc.) to survive. “The health situation is worrying. Access to water is very limited and there are not enough functional latrines. If nothing is done, we can expect epidemics, explains Philippe Bonnet.

SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL has continued its assessment in Deir El Balah, further north of Rafah, where activities will be launched in the coming days.  The teams will then continue their exploratory mission with the aim of working as quickly as possible with the most affected populations. “It would appear that the situation in the centre and north of the Gaza Strip is even more critical. We are therefore going to try to reach areas where tens of thousands of people are currently without any assistance,” concludes Philippe Bonnet.

*https://news.un.org/fr/story/2024/02/1143477

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