Qatar Red Crescent responds to immediate and long-term needs in Gaza

Published: 25 September 2014 15:30 CET

Throughout the recent two-month conflict in Gaza, the Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS) was at the forefront providing all forms of assistance for the people of the Gaza Strip, particularly medical and ambulatory services, as well as mobilising international support to intervene and put an end to this human tragedy.

As early as mid-July, QRCS pledged two million Qatari Riyals through its Disaster Response Fund to secure urgent relief for Gaza. An emergency appeal was also issued to raise three million US dollars (10,950,000 Qatari riyals) to help 40,000 people affected by the crisis over the period of six months.

During the conflict , QRCS relief teams were working hard and facing all kinds of challenges to help distressed people in Gaza and treat the injured whose numbers were increasing.

According to the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS), United Nations agencies, and Palestinian Ministry of Health reports, there were severe deficits in healthcare, water and sanitation, shelter, and food in the Strip as a result of the conflict. QRCS Office in Gaza carried out a quick damage assessment to identify the most urgent needs, which were found to be medical supplies and fuel for hospitals.

Based on these assessment reports, QRCS supplied the Ministry of Health in the Strip with seven main medicine categories to support emergency and surgical services at Gaza’s five major hospitals. The Qatar Red Crescent also provided medical and surgical equipment to several health facilities in Gaza, in coordination with the Ministry. As well, the QRC launched a process to purchase new ambulances for the PRCS whose vehicles were damaged and destroyed during the crisis.

Separately, QRCS conducted a water network emergency maintenance project which helped secure water services for more than 200,000 people. And a festival was organized in solidarity with the people of Gaza during which an appeal for donations was launched to raise funds for the Strip.

However, many QRCS projects that were already founded or were in the establishment phase in the Gaza Strip suffered significant damage during the latest round of violence. Among these projects were the establishment of Al-Wafaa Hospital’s Diabetic Foot Department, the rebuilding and maintenance of Al-Azhar Faculty of Agriculture, the home and school rehabilitation of students with disabilities, and the building and furnishing of the University College's technical workshop.

Raising the voice of the most affected

The Qatar Red Crescent has condemned in several occasions the violations committed against civilians in Gaza, considering these actions contrary to the International Humanitarian Law and all global principles and conventions in relation to armed conflict and protection of civilians.

A high-profile QRCS delegation headed by Dr Mohamed bin Ghanem Al-Ali Al-Maadheed, the chairperson of the board of directors of the Qatar Red Crescent, attended a meeting held by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) in Amman, Jordan, to discuss the humanitarian situation in the enclave.

During the meeting, representatives of Middle East and North Africa (MENA) National Societies called to take action to protect civilians, particularly children, and the national and international medical and relief teams working in Gaza. Dr Al-Maadheed stressed the need to find a mechanism for materialising the decisions of the meeting.

Another QRCS delegation visited ICRC to explore the possibility of sending medical teams to Gaza, securing  minimal protection for hospitals, and providing relief items through ICRC logistics.

The latest situation report issued by QRCS on 26 August indicated that the casualties increased to as high as 2,120 deaths — most of whom were civilians, including 260 women and 577 children — and 10,854 injuries — including 3,307 children.

Amid insecurity which has destroyed 17,200 homes, nearly 500,000 people (or more than one quarter of Gaza population) were displaced and infrastructure was damaged, mainly Gaza's only power plant, water installations, and sewerage networks.