Friday, January 23, 2009

In their Own Words: Aid Workers Share their Reactions

Reuters, AlertNet, January 19, 2009 - Impressions from the field, given in phone interviews:

Melanie Brooks, CARE International spokeswoman:
We are hoping that this ceasefire turns into a more prominent truce because we have a society that has been basically destroyed. Houses destroyed, hospitals destroyed, water systems, electrical systems, businesses starting from scratch. Last week, we were actually distributing fresh vegetables which we get from farmers there, but the problem was the farmers' fields were being bombed or they were being swamped with sewage. So the farmers were not able to harvest the crops, which means CARE was not able to distribute the food.

Kate Redman, Save the Children media manager: Gaza is a very populated area - one of the most populated areas in the world - and you've got 40,000 children under the age of six months in there. It's a huge task. It can't be stressed how this ceasefire has to be permanent and immediate. If you go into a school, sometimes there are almost 2,000 people and they are sleeping on the floor. You've got a family of maybe 10 people and they are sharing one mattress and one blanket between them. One cleaner who cleans the toilet for all these people. The family would share a can of tuna or corn between them. As for the children, they have nothing to do. They are not enjoying being children. They have no structure to their lives, and that's why it's essential to get specialists in there who know how to deal with helping children to understand and move forward with their lives.

Khalid Jodi, head of the Palestinian Red Crescent: It's a catastrophe. They destroyed everything. Even our ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) hospital and buildings were damaged, and a lot of medical supplies destroyed. A huge number of families are without shelter. The U.N. is making shelters in schools. The Israeli helicopters also attacked a shelter for the homeless.

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