Crisis in Gaza: Facts and How to Help

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Big Picture

A humanitarian crisis across the Holy Land continues to escalate since the October 7 attack on Israel and subsequent air strikes that have since devastated Gaza. Since the start of these tragic events, Gaza has become one of the most perilous places in the world for civilians. Not only do families face continual bombardments, but hunger has reached crisis levels. An estimated 90% of the population—2 million people—are facing acute food insecurity. Approximately 85% of the population, or 1.9 million people, have been displaced, with many living on the street without protection from the elements. Lack of food, basic survival items, and poor hygiene exacerbate the already dire living conditions. Over 80% of residential housing infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, along with hospitals and health centers and critical, water, electricity and telecommunications infrastructure.

On May 11, the Israeli military ordered the immediate evacuation of 34 neighborhoods in Rafah in southern Gaza, and Jabalia in northern Gaza. An estimated 1 million people in Rafah and 100,000 people in northern Gaza have relocated. The areas of evacuation include densely crowded neighborhoods, a hospital and refugee camps. Evacuation orders were followed by intense ground and air operations. Compounding the risks is closure of the Rafah Crossing and the severe limited entry of goods through Kerem Shalom. This has severed access to fuel, supplies and the movement of humanitarian staff. The recent turn of events is pushing families to the edge of survival. For more than seven month, they have face daily bombings, lived in uncertainty about their options, taken all measures to protect their families with no safe haven and endured loss of loved ones and assets.


Megan Gilbert

Regional Communications Officer for Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia

2.3 million


141 square miles

Land Area Size

1.9 million

Number of People Displaced

CRS and Partner Response

CRS and its partners continue to provide substantial assistance despite the exceptionally challenging circumstances. To support CRS' Gaza team of 44 staff, CRS mobilized personnel and partners throughout the region. Locally and regionally, CRS coordinates with key organizations in the humanitarian sector, local partners and civil society organizations.

Operations: CRS has set up operational hubs in Rafah and Deir al Balah, including distribution points, offices, warehouses and guesthouses, as well as a distribution point in Khan Younis. CRS’ scale-up plan includes setting up additional distribution points working with local partners, throughout the southern half of Gaza and is ready to expand north when possible. CRS is collaborating with local partners in Gaza City and North Gaza to prepare for safe distributions as soon as aid can reach these areas.

Shelter and Hygiene: CRS and partners have distributed bedding supplies to over 33,000 families, tarps to 20,000 families and tents for 480 families. Additional shelter and hygiene items have been procured and are currently being distributed in Gaza.

Food: In partnership with World Food Programme, CRS and partners have distributed food parcels to 111,000 families. CRS has also procured, transported and started distributing ready-to-eat food rations to Gaza for more than 2,500 families that would each support a family of six for two weeks.

Cash: CRS and partners have transferred multi-purpose cash assistance in the form of vouchers to 22,000 families since the start of hostilities.

Support for Church partners in Gaza: CRS continues to support four churches in Gaza, which continue to serve as temporary shelter locations for 850 people who have been displaced. CRS is supporting these sites with cash assistance and local procurement for food and other items when possible.

Psychosocial support: CRS and partners are prioritizing psychological first aid, caretaker resources and support for specialized trauma, grief and other counseling and support.


Why can't people leave Gaza?

A land, air and sea blockade has been in place in Gaza since 2007, which severely restricts movement in and out of Gaza.

How is aid getting into Gaza?

Aid enters Gaza through the land border crossings of Rafah and Kerem Shalom, when they are open. Before trucks can enter, they must go through several checkpoints and layers of inspections, which can take weeks. Humanitarian aid has also been airdropped into Gaza, but the most efficient and effective way to deliver aid is through land crossings.

Is enough aid getting into Gaza?

Six months into the conflict, about 21,000 trucks of aid have entered Gaza, which averages to about 123 trucks a day. That is far fewer than the estimated 500 trucks a day needed to meet the humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza.

Given the current situation, is CRS able to work in Gaza? If so, what can CRS do in such a difficult situation?

CRS has been working in Gaza since the start of hostilities. Starting with cash support to families, CRS has expanded to other forms of assistance and is currently working in Gaza to deliver food, shelter and hygiene supplies. We have operations in three southern governorates - Rafah in the south, Khan Younis and in Deir al Balah. CRS procures relief items regionally from places like Egypt and Jordan, which are loaded onto CRS trucks and go through either the Rafah crossing point on the Egypt side of the Kerem Shalom crossing point on the Israel side. This involves many checkpoints and layers of inspections that can take weeks. Once in Gaza, the items are delivered to CRS central hubs and then to distribution points, where they are distributed to families. To ensure CRS is reaching those most in need, the CRS team and partner organizations go to locations where displaced families are living. They go tent-to-tent and after confirming people's eligibility, provide them with paper coupons that allow them to go to desginated sites to recieve CRS supplies. Upon arrival at the site, their information is verified, recorded and the aid is then provided.

How do you determine who recieves aid?

Recognizing the huge needs across Gaza, defining eligibility helps us make sure our assistance is getting to the family that needs that type of assistance at that time - and that assistance is distributed as fairly as possible. For example, we want to provide a tent to a family without anywhere to live instead of a family currently living in an apartment. Or, we want to make sure that the family who recieves a food parcel from us did not recieve the same parcel from a different NGO earlier in the week. We monitor and track our supplies through to the last mile and establish communication channels so people can reach out to us with any questions or complaint. When we conduct post distribution monitoring, we are able to get a clear picture of any concerns or issues, and course correct as needed.

I've heard there are Christian Palestinians as well. Is that true?

Yes. There are approximately 50,000 Palestinian Christians who live in the West Bank and Jerusalem, and about 1,300 Christians living in Gaza. Gaza has one Catholic church, which is the Holy Family Church in Gaza City.

Can you help us to get the word out?

Follow and retweet @catholicRelief and @CRSNews on Twitter for the latest updates.

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