World Vision to help 50,000 people with emergency assistance in Gaza



    MISSISSAUGA, ON, Jan. 2 /CNW/ - World Vision will provide emergency
assistance to 50,000 of the most vulnerable children and families in Gaza with
food parcels, blankets and other basic supplies as soon as the situation
permits, the international relief and development organization said on Friday.
    World Vision is especially concerned about those who have fled their
homes seeking sanctuary from the air strikes and are now without shelter.
    "Our priority is to assist those who are living in intolerable conditions
with limited access to food, water or medical facilities," said Charles
Clayton, World Vision's National Director for Jerusalem-West Bank-Gaza.
"Eighty percent of the people in Gaza are already dependent on food aid, and
even those who relied on a meager daily income find that it is no longer
available."
    World Vision Canada has called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other
world leaders to work towards an immediate ceasefire. A ceasefire would allow
World Vision and other aid agencies to carry out emergency assistance. World
Vision continues to advocate for peaceful means to resolve outstanding
differences in the longer term in accordance with international law and human
rights conventions.
    Once the current situation stabilizes, World Vision plans to develop work
activities that will address food security needs and help families with public
assistance for basics like medication, food and water and household supplies.
    Even before the recent outbreak of violence, a baseline survey conducted
on December 18 in the Beit Lahya community in North Gaza where World Vision
works showed extreme poverty and trauma among children. Since then, staff
members have seen the situation worsen significantly.
    "The number of children showing signs of trauma is rapidly increasing,"
said Mohammad El Halaby, World Vision's community development manager in the
Beit Lahya community.

    
    The December 18 survey conducted by World Vision showed:

    -  More than 33.1 percent of families in Beit Lahya have 10 or more
       family members and live in extreme poverty. They rely on coupons for
       food and cannot afford to adequately clothe and educate their
       children.
    -  Among children, bedwetting and nightmares are common - both linked
       with fear and anxiety as a result of the ongoing conflict. "Most
       children experiencing nightmares lack concentration and have attention
       deficit disorders," said a teacher in a focus group session.
    -  While nearly every household in Beit Lahya has access to water, the
       quality is so poor that 95 per cent of households have to buy their
       drinking water. Many children are affected by parasites and diarrhea,
       which is adequately treated in only 24 per cent of cases.
    

    World Vision's activities in the Gaza Strip have been suspended with
shelling going on hourly and randomly, but World Vision staff members continue
to check on the well-being of the sponsored children and visit program areas
to assess the situation when possible. Psychosocial care, educational support
and recreational activities for children are at the core of our work there.
    World Vision supports more than 23,000 children in the West Bank and
Gaza, including 6,000 children sponsored by Canadians in the West Bank. World
Vision began working in Israel and the Palestinian territories in 1975.

    World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization
dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome
poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion,
race, ethnicity or gender.




For further information:

For further information: To interview World Vision staff, please contact
Yoko Kobayashi, (905) 565-6200 ext. 2151, (416) 671-0086 (cell),
yoko_kobayashi@worldvision.ca; Alex Sancton, (905) 565-6200 ext. 3949, (416)
419-1321 (cell), alex_sancton@worldvision.ca


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