Four weeks into the conflict, CARE International staff in Gaza share the devastating suffering they are witnessing and experiencing.
“All aspects of life have been lost – whether a safe place, clean water, food, clothes, blankets, diapers. All these important things for life," said Salwa Tibi, CARE program representative in Gaza.
Last week, several donors said that more aid will be let into Gaza.
“This is good news; the needs are so urgent, and it is crucial that as many aid trucks as possible are allowed in. We have been doing what we can to distribute from storages inside Gaza, and are ready to assist from Egypt, but at this point, it cannot happen fast enough,” said Hiba Tibi, Country Director of CARE Gaza and the West Bank.
Dangerous to search for bread
Following evacuation orders, Salwa Tibi fled towards the south of Gaza with her family, where the situation for civilians is becoming increasingly dire.
“It’s becoming dangerous to go out and get bread. Today an airstrike took place near where I was. Many people were injured while waiting in line to buy bread. I was lucky today, but it did make it very clear for me that we are not safe anywhere. There is a very high risk since airstrikes might occur in any place,” Ahed Abu Tayyem, monitoring, evaluation and learning specialist in CARE Gaza and the West Bank, said Monday.
On Wednesday, CARE got another update from Salwa Tibi, whose family have been relying on canned food for the last two weeks:
“There is no bread at all, due to the lack of flour. Two of our children yesterday, age 3 years, [were] crying for two hours for bread. My message to the world is to stop the war, as we love life,“ she said.
Attacks also in “safe places”
It has been four weeks since the attacks in the Gaza Strip began, and the death toll keeps rising. Strikes are seen all over the Gaza Strip, including in the supposedly safe areas in the south.
“Each day that passes turns out to be worse than the one before. Yesterday, the bombing was very intense, and it is still ongoing every hour, every minute, even by the second,” Ahed Abu Tayyem said.
Furthermore, the blockade of food, water, medicine, electricity, and fuel creates a desperate situation.
“My neighborhood in Tal al-Hawa around Al-Quds Hospital [in Gaza City] was destroyed, all of it. The pictures we see are horrifying” he added.
From their shelters in the south of Gaza, CARE's employees tell of an unsustainable situation. Important infrastructure has been destroyed, and there is a lack of clean water, electricity, and medicine. Diseases spread quickly in overcrowded shelters.
“The situation in UNRWA schools that are used as shelters is catastrophic in terms of hygiene, water, food, bathrooms, and mattresses for sleeping. Due to the huge number of displaced people and the limited space available, the situation is expected to get even more critical since winter is approaching,” Saaed Madhoun, CARE Emergency humanitarian coordinator in Gaza, said.
The price of food, water and fuel in Gaza has more than doubled since the beginning of the conflict.
Left in the dark
When Ahed Abu Tayyem fled to the south of Gaza with his family, he did not get a chance to pack.
“I only took my backpack, which was ready from past wars, containing our university certificates for me and my wife, school certificates for my children, their birth certificates, passports, a phone charger. I took the backpack and carried my son Omar, and my wife carried Laura, the girl, and took some of the clothes that were in front of her for the children and ran out with the prayer clothes on her,” he said.
Over the last week, there have been several telecommunications blackouts in Gaza.
“Imagine the moments of terror and bombing when there is no phone or any means of communication by which we can check on our relatives or ask for help if we need it,” said Ahed Abu Tayyem.
“There is no electricity, it’s so dark everywhere that we cannot move at night. Ambulances do not know where to go to find those in need of assistance until they start to receive corpses from people carrying them on a tuk-tuk or on a donkey or on their backs. Even when they know where to go to rescue potential survivors, they are not able to see anything, and there is a lack of the heavy equipment needed to search in the rubble.”
“I am not asking for anything other than security and safety for me, my children, and my family. I am not sad about anything I lost, not the house or anything else. The important thing is that we get to stay safe and that I can provide bread and water for my children.”