The IFRC calls for safe and unhindered access across the Gaza Strip and the release of hostages
A month since the onsetof violence across Israel and Palestine, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) calls forsafe and unhindered access across the Gaza Stripand the release of hostages seized during the conflict. It also calls upon the diplomatic community to accelerate efforts towards a longer-term peace agreement and a massive scaling up of humanitarian assistance, including fuel.
The Magen David Adom (MDA) in Israel and the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, both members of the IFRC network, have been responding since the beginning of the hostilities. Staff and volunteers of both National Societies have been at the forefront of humanitarian efforts. And they have seen the violence firsthand. Many have lost friends and family members. Seven members, three of MDA and four of PRCS, have lost their own lives while helping others; many more have been injured.
The IFRC repeats its calls for all parties to respect International Humanitarian Law and immediately cease indiscriminate attacks. That means the protection of civilians, healthcare workers and facilities,humanitarian first responders, the immediate and unconditional release of hostages, rapid and unimpeded passage for humanitarian aid, including fuel, throughout the entire Gaza Strip and safe and unhindered access for humanitarian workers. Civilians, humanitarian aid workers, hospitals and ambulances are not targets and must be protected. It is not possible to evacuate patients and those who care for themfromhospitals; we ask for an end to demands to the contrary.
The last month has been the most devastating period of violence ever across Israel and Palestine, killing around twelve thousand people and gravely injuring many more, mostly women and children. The siege of Gaza has caused immense suffering to more than two million people. Both the violence and the siege need to end.
We call on all parties forsafe and unhindered access across the Gaza Stripand the release of hostages. Now.
Israel / Palestine conflict: our response so far
As the escalation of hostilities in Israel and Palestine enters its second month, the conflict continues to take the lives of civilians, disrupt the delivery of life-saving medical care, interrupt critical services that people rely on to survive, and leave families grieving the loss of loved ones.
The IFRC has called on all parties for humanitarian access across Gaza and West Bank, the release of hostages, the protection of civilians, hospitals and humanitarian workers from indiscriminate attack and compliance with international humanitarian law.
Among those killed have been humanitarian aid and health workers who lost their lives while trying to save others, as well as people seeking safety and care at health facilities.
IFRC and National Society response
Meanwhile, IFRC member National Societies in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories continue to respond to urgent humanitarian needs and to provide life-saving assistance and other essential services. The IFRC, meanwhile, is supporting its National Societies Magen David Adom in Israel and the Palestinian Red Crescent in their on-going, live-saving work.
Magen David Adom in Israel (MDA) has been supporting affected communities since the beginning, with ambulance and medical services on call 24/7. Staff and volunteers have been working tirelessly, putting their lives and well-being in harm's way to tend to the wounded and deceased. A total of 1,500 ambulances and 10,000 first responders (EMTs and paramedics) have been mobilized. Since 7 October, they have treated over 4.000 patients.
These staff members and volunteers have been working under difficult and dangerous circumstances. Tragically, several volunteers and staff have died in line of duty, killed while treating patients. Several others also suffered major or minor injuries while on duty. Ambulances have also come under attack at various times during the hostilities.
The MDA has also supported the Ministry of Health in the transfer of patients and the evacuation of bed-ridden people close to the border. MDA is also helping communities prepare in case of further escalation. For example, the National Society offers free, first-aid training focusing on trauma care. It has also gathered, tested and processed over 50,000 units of blood to supply ambulances, mobile intensive care units, hospitals and clinics.
As the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip has deteriorated – with little humanitarian aid reaching impacted communities – Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCRS) teams are working around the clock in extremely difficult and dangerous circumstances. Already, several PRCS volunteers have been killed in the escalating violence. Meanwhile, there are drastic shortages of critical basic necessities, such as fuel, water, food and medical supplies.
Despite the challenges, PRCS has continued to provide critical, life-saving care. In the Gaza Strip, the PRCS has provided emergency medical care to more than 8,800 injured people as of 4 November. PRCS ambulance crews have also transported more than 2,800 people killed since the escalation began.
PRCS’s Al-Quds hospital in Gaza city has cared for 1,061 injured people and taken in long-term patients from the main hospital. The National Society’s Al Amal hospital in Khan Younis has cared for 873 injured people as of 4 November and has also taken in long-term patients from the main government-run hospital.
This life-saving work is being done in the face of regular power and communications blackouts as well as the extreme danger posed by the on-going conflict. PRCS teams have reported shelling very close to their hospitals, ambulance center, main warehouse, and headquarters causing injuries, damaging the buildings and restricting access to the hospitals. Eight ambulances are inoperable due to severe damage, according to PRCS. Al Quds hospital, meanwhile, has continued operation despite demands that it be evacuated.
Meanwhile, PRCS staff have distributed relief items to more than 60,000 internally displaced families in temporary shelters and at their hospitals. Aid items include food parcels, milk, blankets, mattresses, water as well as some hygiene kits, kitchen sets, and baby necessities.
In the West Bank, PRCS has provided emergency medical care to more than 2,300 injured people. Ambulance crews have also transported 49 people killed in the fighting.
Aid delivery to Gaza so far
On 21 October, the first 20 humanitarian aid trucks were allowed to cross the border from Egypt into the Gaza strip. The Rafah border crossing — a key lifeline for essential goods into the Gaza strip — had been closed since the escalation of violence on 7 October.
Since the border was re-opened, 756 trucks carrying food, water, relief items, medicine and medical supplies have been allowed in as of 9 November – an average of 33 trucks per day. The aid that has been received is only a drop in the ocean considering the immense needs of Gaza’s two million people. So far no fuel has been allowed to enter the Gaza strip. The aid deliveries were coordinated by the Egyptian Red Crescent (ERC) the only relief organization with access to North Sinai, including the Rafah border crossing.
New humanitarian flights
On 7 November, two new European Union Humanitarian Air Bridge flights for the people of Gaza took off from Ostend, Belgium and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, transporting almost 115 tonnes of assistance supplies to al-Arish, Egypt, near the Rafah Border Crossing Point.
The flights were organised through a coordination platform managed by the EU and the IFRC. The cargo from Dubai carried logistical items such as refrigerators and containers, a crucial element for the treatment of aid arriving in Egypt and Gaza. These items were purchased by the EU and donated to the World Food Programme in order to strengthen the logistical capacity of the Egyptian Red Crescent and to facilitate relief operations in the region.
Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt
In view of the scale of likely needs and in order to complement the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS)’s response efforts outlined in their appeal, the IFRC will enhance the capacities to respond through an Emergency Appeal by coordinating the response in neighbouring countries to the occupied Palestine Territories.
The IFRC will be supporting – in close coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) - the response of its membership, as significant humanitarian actors in their own geographies, and strengthen their organizational capacities. Through this Emergency Appeal, the IFRC and its membership seek CHF 30 million (CHF 20 million of which is expected to be raised by the IFRC Secretariat) to support the Lebanese Red Cross, Egyptian Red Crescent, Syrian Arab Red Crescent and Jordanian Red Crescent in preparing and strengthening their response readiness to the potential escalation of hostilities in the region and subsequent humanitarian needs.
On 13, October, the IFRC also allocated CHF 1 million from its Disaster Emergency Relief Fund to support a wide range of humanitarian assistance in the occupied Palestinian territories impacted by the hostilities.
The highest price
Since the escalation of hostilities began on 7 October, the IFRC has decried the fact that civilians are paying the “highest price” in the hostilities and has called on all parties to allow humanitarian organizations to safely access and support people impacted by the crisis.
In a joint statement on 14 October, IFRC Secretary General Jagan Chapagain and ICRC Director General Robert Mardini said they were “appalled to see the human misery that has unfolded” and that “civilians - including women and children, the elderly, and the wounded and sick - are currently paying the highest price.”
“Human suffering is happening on all sides,” the statement said. “And it is always devastating. The death of a son or daughter, a sibling, a parent, is a human tragedy no matter where it happens or who it happens to. Civilian life must be protected on all sides.”
“We call on all parties to exercise restraint, to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law, and to protect civilians – which must remain at the core of everything we do,” they wrote, stressing the critical need for all parties to respect and facilitate impartial and neutral humanitarian assistance to all those impacted by the violence.
The IFRC governing board, which includes National Society leaders from all parts of the globe, also expressed its shock and horror at the “growing humanitarian needs and the mounting loss of life” in a special statement released on 20 October.
“This situation underscores the critical importance of access to all civilians, including those held hostage,” the statement continued. “We urge all parties involved to prioritize the safety and well-being of civilians and to commit to ensuring rapid, safe, and unimpeded access, including the opening of the Rafah border crossing, for humanitarian organizations to provide essential humanitarian assistance and ensure protection.”
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@elsharkawi - IFRC MENA Regional Director, Hossam Elsharkawi
IFRC statement on the evacuation order of Al Quds hospital in Gaza
We are deeply alarmed to hear that the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) teams at the Al-Quds hospital have again this morning been told to immediately evacuate the hospital. Hospitals are places of help and refuge; they must be protected at all cost.
PRCS’s Al-Quds hospital in Gaza city is caring for hundreds of injured people and bed-ridden, long-term patients. Evacuating patients, including those in intensive care, on life-support and babies in incubators, is close to, if not impossible in the current situation. Our teams also report violent attacks and shelling very close to the hospital further endangering people. Al-Quds Hospital is operated by PRCS, a component of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and together with other medical missions and facilities are protected under international humanitarian law.
We are deeply concerned about the safety of patients, health care workers and the thousands who have taken refuge in Al-Quds Hospital. Healthcare workers should never be put in front of the impossible dilemma of leaving patients behind or risking their lives staying in the hospital.
In the past weeks, we have again and again called for the protection of civilians, hospitals and health care workers. This is not just a moral obligation but also a legal imperative. We urge everyone to exercise restraint and adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law. There is an urgent need to deescalate to save lives, including by ensuring that hospitals can safely operate and allowing for an unhindered, continuous flow of critical humanitarian aid into Gaza.
We cannot stress this further. Civilian lives must be protected. Hospitals, doctors and nurses must be protected. We must preserve humanity.
| Press release
IFRC welcomes first aid into Gaza but says much more is needed
Geneva, 21 October 2023:The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is very pleased that the Rafah border crossing from Egypt into Gaza was opened briefly on Saturday morning.
Twenty is a tiny number of trucks given the needs in Gaza, but it is better than nothing and represents hope. We now call on all parties to allow in further vehicles to ensure regular aid into Gaza, where it is desperately needed.
On the trucks were medicines and food. The life-saving supplies were provided by the Egyptian Red Crescent and the United Nations and received by the Palestine Red Crescent with the support of the United Nations.
We ask that further aid includes fuel for hospitals as well as water. We also ask that safe passage is ensured so that aid can be delivered wherever in Gaza it is needed most.
Jagan Chapagain, Secretary General of the IFRC said:
“We’re grateful that the Egyptian and Palestine Red Crescent societies have been able to help get the first humanitarian supplies into Gaza. But the ongoing humanitarian needs in Gaza are immense. Much more aid will be needed to meet them.”
Marwan Jilani, the Director General of the Palestine Red Crescent said: “The operation went relatively well but this is just a drop in the ocean relative to the needs of Gaza. The Egyptian Red Crescent has many trucks that are packed - they are loaded - and they are waiting to get into Gaza anytime we are given the green light to go. From the Palestine Red Crescent side, we are ready to receive.”
For further details or interview requests please contact [email protected]
Andrew Thomas: +41 76 3676587
Caroline Haga: +358 505980500 / +961 70 483 543
Statement by the members of the governing board of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
We, the members of the Governing Board of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), convey our deep concern about the humanitarian situation that has arisen as a result of the dramatic escalation of hostilities in Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories. This crisis has resulted in a tragic number of casualties, including the distressing number of deaths and injuries at the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza, and has led to immense suffering and devastation for all civilians. We are compelled by our moral duty to speak out on their behalf.
We are deeply shocked and horrified by the growing humanitarian needs and the mounting loss of life. This situation underscores the critical importance of access to all civilians, including those held hostage. We urge all parties involved to prioritize the safety and well-being of civilians and to commit to ensuring rapid, safe, and unimpeded access, including the opening of the Rafah border crossing, for humanitarian organizations to provide essential humanitarian assistance and ensure protection.
We strongly emphasize the humanitarian imperative for the protection of all civilians. We call for the protection of essential institutions, hospitals and schools as well as critical infrastructure and vehicles, such as water and electrical networks and ambulances, which must remain free from harm, to ensure the well-being, safety and transportation of people. These institutions also serve as cornerstones of hope and stability in times of crisis. Civilians, health facilities and civilian infrastructure must be respected and protected at all times under international humanitarian law.
Furthermore, we call for ensuring the safety and protection of humanitarian workers, with special recognition of the volunteers and staff of the Palestine Red Crescent Society and Magen David Adom in Israel. Their commitment to providing essential assistance and medical care to people who are affected by this crisis is invaluable; their resilience is exceptional. They must be protected and granted safe and unhindered access to carry out lifesaving work without fear of harm. Their unwavering dedication embodies the spirit of humanity and compassion inherent in our Red Cross and Red Crescent family.
We are deeply saddened for the tragic loss of three volunteers and staff of Magen David Adom in Israel, as well as four volunteers from the Palestine Red Crescent Society. Their willingness to reach challenging and often dangerous locations to help those in need exemplifies the highest ideals of humanity. Their legacy will serve as a lasting source of inspiration for us all.
As board members of the IFRC, we stand united in our call for urgent action to address the humanitarian crisis that is dramatically unfolding in front of our eyes. We are hopeful that through concerted efforts, a lasting political solution can be found to alleviate the suffering of people in Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories and promote a path towards peace.
The need for lasting peace and stability has never been greater.
National Society Investment Alliance funding announcement 2023
The National Society Investment Alliance (NSIA) is a pooled funding mechanism, run jointly by the IFRC and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The NSIA provides flexible, multi-year funding to support the long-term development of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies so they can increase the reach and impact of their humanitarian services. It focuses on supporting National Societies operating in complex emergencies, protracted crises and fragile contexts.
The NSIA can award up to one million Swiss francs of Accelerator funding to National Societies in fragile contexts over a maximum of five years. In addition, Bridge grants of up to 50,000 Swiss francs over 12 months can help National Societies lay the ground for future investment from the NSIA or from other National Societies Development (NSD) support initiatives.
In 2023, the NSIA Office received 27 eligible proposals: 14 for Accelerator funding and 13 for Bridge grants. Having reviewed all applications and following up the decision of the Steering Committee, the NSIA Office is pleased to announce that the following four National Societies have been selected for Accelerator funding in 2023:
Ecuadorian Red Cross
Myanmar Red Cross Society
Red Cross Society of Niger
The Palestine Red Crescent Society
These National Societies will receive a significant investment to help accelerate their journey towards long-term sustainability.
Three of these National Societies (Myanmar, Niger and Palestine) previously received NSIA Bridge grants, proving once again the relevance of the fund’s phased approach.
The Myanmar Red Cross Society will proceed with the decentralization of its commercial first aid program after designing a strategy and a business model with the bridge grant.
The Red Cross Society of Niger plans to develop the resource mobilization capacities of its branches after a pilot phase and to boost their volunteer base.
The Palestine Red Crescent Society, having developed an investment strategy with a previous bridge grant, will improve access to healthcare services by implementing a health management information system.
The Ecuadorian Red Cross plans to develop a new internal system to better manage important parts of their work - including HR, volunteer, financial management and logistics. The NSIA will fund the first phase of implementation of this system.
15 other National Societies will receive Bridge grants (up to 50,000 Swiss francs): Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Central Africa, Côte d’Ivoire, El Salvador, Honduras, Liberia, Philippines, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Togo and Zimbabwe.
Most Bridge initiatives will focus on developing business plans and strategies for resource mobilization (57 per cent) followed by branch development (21%). The National Societies’ projects will also focus on other themes such as volunteer development, youth engagement, digital transformation and governance are also identified.
In total, the NSIA will allocate 3.2 million Swiss francs to the 19 different National Societies this year.
The NSIA Office also takes this opportunity to thank the generous support from the governments of Switzerland, the United States, and Norway, and from the Norwegian and Netherlands’ Red Cross Societies, as well as the ICRC and IFRC, for their continuous commitment and contribution to the fund.
The NSIA remains a strategic instrument for National Societies in fragile settings. The Nigerian Red Cross Society (NRCS) has been implementing a NSIA accelerator initiative since 2021. Mr. Abubakar Kende, NRCS Secretary General explains:
“The NSIA has played a pivotal role in the success and expansion of the Nigerian Red Cross Society's commercial first aid training program. The financial and technical support and resources provided have significantly improved the overall impact, reach and quality of our Workplace First Aid training by developing advanced training products to bring us up-to-date with international best practices.
The NSIA Accelerator Grant has been an invaluable asset for the development of the Nigerian Red Cross Society through strategic investments, expert guidance, and the introduction of additional revenue-generating streams that contribute to its long-term financial sustainability. This enables the National Society to fulfil its humanitarian mission and positively impact the lives of vulnerable communities across Nigeria.
We are immensely grateful for the partnership so far with NSIA and look forward to continuing our shared mission of building a more prepared and resilient Nigeria. This cooperation and support has enabled NRCS to establish a solid foundation for growth and financial sustainability at both National Headquarters and the Branches, which we intend to scale up over the next coming years.”
For more information, pleasevisit the NSIA webpage.
| Press release
IFRC is extremely concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation in Palestine
West Bank / Gaza / Geneva 12 November 2021 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is extremely concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation in Palestine. Palestinians are facing a multitude of crises, including persistent escalations of violence, a socio-economic breakdown and the COVID-19 pandemic in the context of a protracted conflict and occupation.
Critical infrastructure, including the power and water supply, is eroding in many areas. Millions of people are unable to cover their most basic needs because of serious shortages of food, water, fuel, and medicines, among other essential supplies, especially in Gaza, as a result of the continued blockade. According to OCHA, more than 2.4 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.
Speaking at the end of his visit to the Gaza strip and the West Bank, IFRC President Francesco Rocca said:
“I am deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in Palestine: too many overlapping crises are pushing local communities to their limits. I am always impressed by the critical work done by the Palestine Red Crescent teams: from the emergency medical services to social and inclusion activities, they are a key humanitarian actor. I was particularly inspired by the visit to their centres for children with disabilities both in Gaza Strip and West Bank. These centres embody the real meaning of humanity: without PRCS these children would be left behind. The world has a moral duty to strengthen humanitarian support in Palestine and invest in local actors like the Palestine Red Crescent.”
Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) continues to be the leading provider of emergency medical services in Palestine, operating five hospitals and providing ambulance and first aid services. For decades, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has supported the Palestine Red Crescent Society to respond to the immense needs of the most vulnerable people.
During the visit, President Rocca signed the IFRC legal status agreement with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Palestine: a standard procedure when the IFRC establishes an office with international staff to strengthen the operations of a national Red Cross or Red Crescent Society.
IFRC President Rocca said:
“Signing of the status agreement is verification for our long-term commitment to support PRCS and the people in Palestine. As per our humanitarian principles, we continue providing humanitarian relief to the people based on their vulnerabilities and needs, without discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions.”
Dr. Younis al-Khatib, PRCS President, said:
“The signing of the legal status agreement is a manifestation of the long-standing support and solidarity of IFRC with PRCS. The staff and volunteers of PRCS are always happy to meet with President Rocca and be inspired by his unwavering support and praise for the volunteers of our Movement.”
IFRC is committed to supporting the PRCS in its humanitarian mandate to deal with the acute and protracted consequences of occupation, violence, disasters, and crises.
IFRC together with the other Red Cross and Red Crescent partners continue to enhance the preparedness and response capacities of PRCS’ medical services, scale up their COVID-19 response activities, provide medical items, medicines and personal protective equipment, and replace old and out-of-service ambulances.
To request an interview or for more information, please contact:
In Geneva: Tommaso Della Longa, IFRC, +41 79 708 43 67, [email protected]
In Beirut: Jani Savolainen, IFRC, +961 70372812, [email protected]
In Ramallah: Mamoun Abbasi, PRCS, +970 595606096, [email protected]
The Palestine Red Crescent Society
“30 Minutes with My Child”: An exceptional campaign in Bethlehem
Bethlehem - The Palestine Red Crescent Society's PRCS' campaign, “30 Minutes With My Child”, is still gaining momentum in the towns and villages of the Bethlehem Governate in Palestine since its launch at the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. The successful campaign has been achieved thanks to the helping hands of many of the PRCS 350, who enthusiastically engaged in delivering this initiative.
To learn more about the campaign’s creation, Ms. Judith al Sayej, PRCS’ Bethlehem branch Administrative Director, described the campaign saying that “at the beginning of COVID-19 outbreak, we decided to set up a psychological support team to help mothers, and subsequently their children, as part of the service provided by PRCS to local communities during these difficult times. We asked mothers to film their children as they carried out various activities, such as drawing, telling stories, and reciting poetry”. Judith explained how “the videos aimed to showcase the children’s creativity and allow them to express their feelings and emotions”.
Given the outstanding artistic skills displayed by the gifted children, who exhibited their talents in many videos, PRCS’ Bethlehem Branch decided to hold a contest and recognise the top 10 videos with an award. According to Judith al Sayej, the judges we select will be tasked with selecting the winning videos. The abilities of the boys and girls of Bethlehem in expressive art does not come as a surprise since the city boasts 10 museums and over 150 cultural centers and NGO’s.
“30 Minutes With My Child” owes a crucial part of its positive outcome to thePRCS volunteers. Salwa al Zeer, PRCS’ Bethlehem Branch Community Action Coordinator, shed some light on the instrumental role they played in the campaign. Our “volunteers have played a major role in the implementation of this campaign. The local communities’ response has also been high, and the campaign gained interest rapidly with people eager to display their children’s creativity. We were heartened by this response rate, which proves that we can do great things even in the most difficult of times”.
Speaking about this phenomenal campaign and as one of the volunteers, Ahmad Imteir, PRCS’ Bethlehem Branch’s Activities Officer, elaborated and added that “the current extraordinary context led us to focus on psychological support as part of our social mission”. He applauded the volunteers’ great job in the campaign and detailed the areas they participated in to keep the confined children on track. “They also assisted children in grade one through grade three with their schooling by resorting to distance learning solutions. This was done in a fun and accessible way, so children received gifts as an incentive to join this initiative”. He attributed the success of these activities to the imagination and originality of the children as well as the widespread participation among the local communities.
In its response to COVID-19, PRCS provided the following humanitarian services: Emergency medical Services, Health and Relief, and Psycho-Social Support (PSS). PRCS distributed food parcels to 12480 families in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (oPT), delivered medical services in primary health care centers to 1189 persons and activated 50 members of its PSS team to respond to people’s needs via phone sessions. The elderly and the patients who are dealing with chronic diseases have been visited at home by volunteers as well.
PRCS was established in December 1968 as a national humanitarian organization to look after the health, welfare and well-being of the Palestinian people in West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and Iraq. PRCS, as a full member of the International Movement of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, goes the extra mile to provide humanitarian, health, cultural and social services with its 4,200 employees and a network of 20,000 volunteers.
PRCS volunteer: "Commitment, understanding and awareness are needed to defeat COVID-19"
Photos and words by Palestine Red Crescent Society
Salma Mahmoud Al Barqawi (50) has been volunteering with PRCS in Anabta for the past 17 years, and this fills her with pride. The years she has spent volunteering have shaped her personality, made her an active member of society and increased her awareness and commitment to her town, friends and family.
Salma first heard about the new coronavirus on local radio, and then attended an awareness-raising workshop held by PRCS on COVID—19 in Anabta.
“After the workshop, I communicated the basic health messages conveyed to us to other community members to help them protect themselves and prevent the spread of the virus. I did this in a simple and reassuring manner without stoking fear or panic in the community”, she says.
Speaking about her personal experience with the new Coronavirus, Salma explains that her husband works inside Israel. He had spent an entire month away from home, but with the rapid spread of the virus and the many calls for workers to return to their villages, he decided to come home along with eight other workers from the town.
When they reached the nearest checkpoint to Anabta, Salma called PRCS and asked for the phone number of the Preventive Medicine Unit, which she then immediately contacted.
”My husband and his colleagues then reported to the COVID—19 testing center. None of them tested positive, but they all self-quarantined for 14 days. When this happened, I realized the importance of the health messages and preventive measures I learned through the PRCS workshop”, she says.
Salma also called the wives of her husband’s colleagues and explained to them that no one should hug, kiss or touch their husbands and that they needed to be isolated.
“We all agreed to keep in touch and to contact PRCS should we have questions.”
In Salma Mahmoud Al Barqawi’s house, her husband had to use a separate bedroom and bathroom. Salma washed all his clothes separately and served him his meals in disposable plates.
”None of us came within 2 meters from him. I also called PRCS and they sent volunteers to disinfect my house. It was very difficult for my husband to stay away from his grandchildren whom he missed a lot. But he knew that he had to protect them by respecting social distancing measures”, she explains.
Salma believes that defeating COVID—19 requires a strong will, commitment, understanding and awareness.
“Above all, do not panic and keep a cool head because panicking will overwhelm you and prevent you from working effectively to prevent the spread of the virus.My final advice to everyone: stay at home – for your sake but also for the sake of your loved ones and your homeland”, Salma concludes.
“My children can finally sleep in a warm place”
Photo by Palestine Red Crescent Society
Words by Ra’ed Al Nims, Palestine Red Crescent Society
"We are drowning… Help us!"
Palestine Red Crescent Society's Operations Room in Gaza received this distressing call during heavy rains, strong wind and cold weather in late January 2020. A team from the Red Crescent’s Disaster Management Unit (DMU) was immediately sent to the scene. What they found was an old, broken-down house with a roof that had started to cave in, causing mud, water and stones to fall into the rooms.
"We were totally shocked by what we saw. Four brothers with their wives, children and their parents, 24 people in total, lived in this place that looked like it was slowly falling apart. Rain was falling down in torrents, and the children were terrified and crying", says Saleem Abou Ras, 26, a member of the DMU team.
The team carried out a rapid assessment of the family’s needs and handed them tarpaulin sheets, cleaning tools, mattresses and blankets.
"I live with my wife and five children in one room in this tiny house. Heavy rain made the roof of our room collapse and water, mud and stones fell on us while we were sleeping. My children were terrified. I did not know what to do. With the support from the Palestine Red Crescent, we managed to get through that horrible night", says Maher Al Kishawi, 38, one of the four brothers.
"Our family is very big and we have no source of income. Without the help from the Red Crescent, our lives would have certainly been in danger", his wife, Suad Al Kishawi, 35, added.
After that night, Red Crescent team visited the family again and provided them with additional relief items.
"We are safe, at least for the time being. Most importantly, my children can now sleep in a warm room", Suad Al Kishawi says.
The Red Crescent teams have distributed tarpaulin sheets, blankets, mattresses, heaters, hygiene kits and other relief items to around 450 families affected by cold weather in the West Bank and Gaza. Palestine Red Crescent Society continues to monitor the situation and to support people affected.