ALEXANDRIA, Va – Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA) has released the following statement:
As the official death toll in Gaza passes 20,000, Islamic Relief is warning that the actual toll is likely to be even higher – as thousands of people are still missing and buried under the rubble and young children are increasingly suffering severe hunger and disease.
To see 20,000 people killed in such a short space of time is a stain on the world’s conscience. The thousands of people killed are not just statistics – they are humanitarian workers, doctors, nurses, teachers, journalists, farmers, shopkeepers, artists, labourers and all sectors of Palestinian society. The vast majority of those killed and injured are civilians, with 40% of them children. Relatives of Islamic Relief staff have also been killed in their homes or as they fled on Israeli orders.
As a humanitarian organisation Islamic Relief responds to horrific wars and crises all over the world, but we have rarely if ever witnessed killing and destruction at this speed and scale. International law is being wilfully ignored on a daily basis. With the death toll still rising every hour, the UN Security Council must demand an immediate ceasefire. Every further day of delay costs many more lives. Only an immediate and lasting ceasefire can protect civilians and begin to address the catastrophic humanitarian situation.
More than 10 weeks of relentless Israeli assault has flattened much of Gaza and left civilians desperately searching for food, water, medicine and fuel. Most people are now going whole days without food and most civilians are now suffering severe hunger. Hundreds of thousands of people are crammed into makeshift shelters, and heavy rain and falling temperatures are making conditions even worse as tents have been flooded and children are rapidly becoming sick.
Despite a small number of aid trucks now entering through Kerem Shalom as well as Rafah, the amount of aid being allowed into Gaza is still a drop in the ocean compared to what is needed. With markets now almost empty, Israel continues to ban commercial trucks from entering. Humanitarian aid alone will not be anywhere near enough to address this crisis and it is essential that crossings are reopened to commercial supplies as well.
As well as the 20,000 or more killed, over 52,000 people have also been wounded – with many suffering life-changing injuries such as loss of limbs.
Intense Israeli bombardments and ground attacks are continuing despite mounting global pressure for a ceasefire. In the past few days more hospitals have been besieged and homes, refugee camps and school shelters have been bombed. Telecommunications and internet continue to be cut off in much of Gaza for days at a time, restricting information and making aid delivery even more difficult. There are widespread reports of civilians being detained and abused.
Places of worship have come under unprecedented attack, with at least 112 mosques and three churches now damaged by bombing – including many that are sheltering families who have been forced from their homes.
The scale of destruction is staggering with at least 60% of homes and 69% of schools now reportedly damaged or destroyed, and almost 80% of hospitals no longer able to function. The need for a permanent humanitarian ceasefire is greater than ever.
Syed M. Hassan
(571) 421-7032 (CELL)
Islamic Relief USA, based in Alexandria, Va., is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) humanitarian organization. Its mission is to provide relief and development in a dignified manner regardless of gender, race, or religion, and works to empower individuals in their communities and give them a voice in the world. Its programs benefit millions of people each year in more than 40 countries around the world, including in the United States.
Islamic Relief USA meets all of the Standards for Charity Accountability of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, a national charity monitoring group affiliated with the Better Business Bureau system. Islamic Relief USA is on the U.S. government’s Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) charity list, and it is also a signatory to the code of conduct of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.