More than 49 people were killed, including 17 children, after three days of Israeli airstrikes in the besieged Gaza Strip, that started Friday, Aug. 5. These attacks came on the heels of border crossing closures that had been in place since Aug. 2: As a result, people had not been allowed in and out, including in the case of medical need, and essential commodities, like food and fuel, have not entered. All of these factors seriously impacted and continue to impact economic and social rights, including the supply of clean water, hygiene, and healthcare. On Aug. 8, borders reopened after a cease-fire was declared but resources are still scarce.
The devastation and the toll on families across Gaza is unbearable. Survivors are in great need of food, medical attention, and so much more. The Islamic Relief global family activated to provide emergency relief, and continues to do so now–your donations can help us reach as many families as possible with urgent aid and can help us continue longer-term programming, like psychosocial first aid for children suffering from trauma.
The coronavirus pandemic, coupled with violence and decades of political instability, have stifled economic development across Palestine and made difficult situations even worse. Most Palestinians, living both inside the occupied territories and in neighboring regions, depend on international aid for survival. According to the World Food Program, 1.6 million people in Palestine are food insecure, including nearly half of Gaza’s population. Food expenses easily consume a majority of an impoverished family’s budget. Work options are extremely limited: Unemployment is close to 23%, with nearly half the population in Gaza being unemployed.
In addition, continued violence throughout Palestine severely affects the most vulnerable section of the population: children, many of whom suffer from psychological trauma.
With all this considered, one thing remains clear: The people of Palestine are resilient, and with the support of donors like you, families in need can access opportunities to break the chains of poverty and move toward success.
Islamic Relief has been working in Palestine for over two decades. In the late 90’s Islamic Relief Palestine opened its office so long-term development projects could be implemented and overseen by people in the field.
For decades, our legacy in the country has grown to help hundreds of thousands of people every year. While the Islamic Relief community provides urgent aid in times of emergency, we also work with Palestinians and partners to implement long-term, sustainable programs that set families for independent success. We want Palestinians to survive and thrive! And with your continued support, IRUSA we can make that happen.
Here are a few of our most recent efforts for families in need across Palestine:
THERE ARE MANY QUESTIONS ABOUT HOW WE GET AID INTO PALESTINE.
We hear you! So we want to let you know how our teams work on the ground to deliver your donations to the people in need.
Most items that come into Gaza first come through commercial entities, not through NGOs. These commercial suppliers are approved and are usually allowed in, especially for food items and medical supplies. Whenever borders are closed, Islamic Relief has prequalified suppliers and that enables us to procure items quickly from within Gaza to meet immediate needs. Some of our partners are able to bring in-kind donations from outside Gaza and the West Bank. Items can sometimes get blocked during escalations, when borders are closed, or if there are delays at the Karem Abu Salem crossing (the main crossing for goods into Gaza). However, they do usually get through. We work hard to ensure that these essential supplies as well as what is available in local markets, are available for the immediate need.
The Islamic Relief family has been on the ground in Gaza for the past 25 years. Islamic Relief USA, specifically, receives updates on the community’s immediate needs through organizations with local staff and offices. We have a long and successful history of working through established local partnerships to deliver urgent support and implement development projects for Palestinians, including improving access to healthcare, psychosocial support, education, and livelihoods. Together, our response is that much stronger and wider in reach, especially when it is needed most.
During times of crisis and emergency, banks and monetary institutions are often impacted. This can prevent families from accessing banks and withdrawing funds. Humanitarian organizations have existing relationships with banks and available funds on reserve that they can access and utilize during such emergency crises to ensure a quick response.
Humanitarian organizations are able to assess needs on the ground on a wider scale, and in coordination with relevant actors (i.e. ministries and UN Clusters) to determine the best way to utilize funds as per the urgent needs on the ground. Humanitarian organizations also have standards they must maintain to ensure high-quality assistance is provided such as operating standards and quality of aid, while also ensuring there is no duplication so that every person can be reached equitably.
Islamic Relief already has active and ongoing relationships through its partners on the ground who maintain local offices and can quickly implement aid directly, especially during emergencies. When working with local partners, these relationships are already determined before a project is signed and before funds are transferred.
The humanitarian needs across Palestine are immense, with approximately 80% of Palestinians relying on humanitarian agencies to meet their basic needs. Unfortunately, big governments don’t provide enough assistance to reach all those in need and major cuts in funding in recent years have only made this worse.
Transparency is our key value. That is why we post pictures, share videos, and, most importantly, we account for every dollar given through reports on our website and audits every single year.
As much as we’ve been able to accomplish, there is still so much more to do. If we work together—with YOU—we can make the vision of a better Palestine a reality for so many more of our sisters and brothers in need.
Saif graduated at the top of his class in the software engineering department at Al-Azhar University in Gaza. For four months, he searched for a job.
His odds were slim: Jobs are scarce in Gaza, especially for young adults. Gaza’s youth unemployment rate is among the highest in the world at 58%.
He never landed an interview — not even a single reply.
“Staying at home doing nothing makes you feel worthless,” he said.
When he saw an announcement for a job skills program offered by IRUSA and Palestine Education for Employment, he knew that would be a good use of his time. The training focuses on practical skills that teach graduates the soft skills necessary to find and keep a job, as well as a component focusing on skills for working online.
Through this program, Saif took classes in Virtual Jobs, Project Management, and Sales. He began to understand that his good grades weren’t enough, and he recognized the weaknesses in his previous applications.
“Many aspects of my CV and cover letter needed development,” he said. With the help of the trainers, Saif was able to fix them and practice new skills, hands-on. He applied for another position as teaching assistant at Al-Azhar University — and he got the job.