Gaza Post-Conflict Response Continues

Photo by Shareef Sarhan for CRS

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Intense fighting in July and August 2014 between Israel and militant groups in Gaza left thousands dead and widespread damage in the Gaza Strip. Besides thousands of casualties, primarily among civilians, the conflict destroyed homes, factories, schools, farmland, water networks, roads and electrical lines.

A cash-for-work project employs dozens of people to help rebuild and restore a destroyed kindergarten. This allows people within the community to earn wages as laborers. Photo by Shareef Sarhan for CRS
A cash-for-work project employs dozens of people to help rebuild and restore a destroyed kindergarten. This allows people within the community to earn wages as laborers. Photo by Shareef Sarhan for CRS

Many Palestinians in Gaza still face tremendous challenges, including unemployment, homelessness, disability, loss of livelihoods and psychological trauma. Rebuilding Gaza is complicated by an ongoing 7-year blockade that prevents the import of cement and other construction materials.

CRS response

Catholic Relief Services is working with local partners in Gaza to help communities recover by:

  • Building transitional shelters
  • Rehabilitating agricultural land
  • Creating child-friendly spaces
  • Distributing household survival kits
  • Providing short-term work opportunities
  • Distributing food and water
  • Offering psychosocial support

With a presence in the Gaza Strip since 1984 and a current staff in Gaza of more than 25, CRS is well-positioned to partner with local communities in relief and recovery. CRS provides humanitarian assistance solely on the basis of need, regardless of race, creed or nationality.

Heavy toll on civilians

  • 2,186 Palestinians killed, including 516 children
  • 66 Israeli soldiers and 5 civilians killed in Israel
  • 11,100 Palestinians injured, including 1,000 permanently disabled children
  • 117,000 internally displaced people
  • Ongoing electricity and water shortages

Transitional shelter

About 34% of housing in Gaza was damaged in the conflict, leaving approximately 117,000 people in need of transitional shelter. CRS consulted extensively with communities to design a socially and culturally acceptable shelter. The timber-frame units are constructed on the beneficiary's land, enabling households to return to their property and communities. The shelters come in three sizes and meet rigorous technical guidelines for safety. All shelter materials are available in local markets.

Household survival kits

Many families displaced during the fighting fled with nothing but the clothes on their backs, and they returned to find their homes and belongings destroyed. CRS is supporting 18,000 displaced families with emergency kits that contain basic household items, including cooking supplies, water storage containers and hygiene items.

Food and water

In the immediate aftermath of the war, CRS provided vouchers to 400 displaced families for 2 months of groceries and drinking water. Beneficiaries could redeem these at local supermarkets. Vouchers gave beneficiaries the dignity to be able to buy items most appropriate for their families, while boosting the private-sector economy. CRS also replaced damaged water tanks and provided water for drinking and other purposes.

Agricultural recovery

Farmland on the eastern border with Israel was severely damaged by airstrikes, tanks and bulldozers. As a result, most farmers lost an entire season of crops. Resuming agricultural production requires farmers to rehabilitate land, repair roads, replace damaged irrigation pipes and fencing, and replant fields. CRS is supporting recovery by providing farmers with labor to help with land preparation and vouchers to buy seeds, tools and other materials. More than 700 vulnerable, conflict-affected farmers are being supported by CRS.

Short-term work opportunities

Cash-for-work projects provides income for those struggling to make ends meet and improves community infrastructure. Through cash for work, CRS is repairing damaged kindergartens, rehabilitating farmland and sewing school uniforms. Participants work for about 2 months, earning wages that are in line with local labor rates. More than 1,000 people will benefit from cash-for-work opportunities in Gaza.

Child-friendly spaces

Children have borne the brunt of the conflict in the loss of relatives and homes, damage to schools, and streets filled with rubble. Recognizing the devastating effect war has on children, CRS is working with local community organizations to provide child-friendly spaces for school-aged children. These spaces offer safe and supervised play areas, counseling services and academic enrichment. An estimated 7,000 children will benefit.

Counseling for children, caregivers

CRS will provide counseling through a local center, with group sessions for children and caregivers in some of Gaza's hardest-hit neighborhoods.

To help teachers engage traumatized children, CRS provided art supplies, toys and games to damaged kindergartens. CRS also distributed 10,000 backpacks of school supplies to children at the start of the school year.