World Vision welcomes ceasefire in Gaza, unrestricted access needed for aid

    MISSISSAUGA, ON, Jan. 19 /CNW/ - Children in Gaza are still at risk as
long as humanitarian access is restricted and insecurity continues, despite
the long-awaited ceasefire announced over the weekend, says World Vision.
    "These announcements alone do not guarantee the safety and protection of
children and civilians in Gaza or southern Israel," said Charles Clayton,
National Director of World Vision Jerusalem-West Bank-Gaza, urging world
leaders to take seriously their responsibility to protect civilians and
especially children who make up more than half of Gaza's population.
    "We welcome any alleviation of violence, with cautious optimism and hope
that these declarations of ceasefire will lead to the end of fighting. We call
on all parties to stop attacks and refrain from further hostilities," he said.
    Over the weekend, Israel declared a unilateral truce saying that its
objectives have been met after its three-week offensive, followed by Hamas'
announcement of a conditional ceasefire contingent on Israel pulling all
ground troops out of Gaza in a week.
    Insecurity has prevented World Vision from distributing emergency
supplies to 50,000 people who are in the worst-hit areas of Beit Lahiya and
Rafah where the organization operates on-going community development projects.
    "We are calling on Israel to ensure unhindered, open humanitarian access
to meet the needs of the people of Gaza. This must include opening the main
crossings at Karni and Erez for taking humanitarian supplies in. The current
humanitarian corridor is utterly inadequate for necessary relief operations,"
Clayton said.
    Even before this crisis, the 18-month blockade and land, sea and air
closures of Gaza devastated the economy, halted services and rendered the
residents entirely dependent on humanitarian aid. World Vision says
maintaining this blockade is unacceptable and a full resolution to the
conflict must include withdrawal of Israel's ground presence from Gaza, a
return to freedom of movement of residents within the area, and an end to
rocket launchings.
    World Vision donors support 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),; Alex Sancton, (905) 565-6200 ext.3949, (416)
419-1321 (cell),

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