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CARE International Japan is a Japan charity and international humanitarian aid organization fighting global poverty, with a special focus on empowering women and girls to bring lasting change to their communities.
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Food in Gaza running out
CARE distributions halted by Israeli ground assault

[ 2009.1. 5 ]

Gaza, Occupied Palestinian Territories (Jan. 5, 2009)
The weekend's escalation of violence has halted many distributions of essential goods such as food and medical supplies, straining critically low food supplies and forcing Gaza's population to risk leaving their homes in the midst of the bombings in search of food, CARE's emergency team in Gaza has warned.

"People do not have money to buy food, and what little food there is in the markets is running out," said Yazdan El-Amawi, CARE's Emergency Team Leader in Gaza. "Even if you have money, people are terrified to leave their homes to buy food because of the bombings. If you are outside, you might be mistaken as a target."

When the shelling began Dec. 27, CARE immediately distributed medical supplies, blankets, heaters and winterization kits, and a week's worth of fresh vegetables to hospitals, families and homebound individuals. But since the Israeli ground incursion began Jan. 3, it has become too dangerous for farmers to transport their produce for CARE to distribute to needy families. Medical supplies that CARE delivered to Gaza on Friday are sitting in a warehouse, as hospital staff are unable to transport it to where it's needed because of the heavy fighting.

"I was at a feeding centre on Saturday, where hundreds of people were lined up for hours to get food," said El-Amawi. "The feeding centre is right next to the police station, which was evacuated because it was deemed a target. It's horrible; mothers, fathers, children are all waiting to get food, but they know it's a restricted area that could be hit any moment."

Electricity is not functioning in 75 percent of Gaza, and the UN reports 23 bakeries have already been forced to close due to a lack of cooking fuel. Only 10 bakeries remain fully operational, and wheat flour is scarce. Four hours in line at a bakery will yield just a half a loaf of bread ? barely enough for a family for one day.

"People are rationing what they eat," said El-Amawi. "I don't know how much longer people can hold out. They are trying to make things last, but in a week or less, if the situation continues, if we don't get more food and emergency supplies, people will collapse."

More than 500 Palestinians and five Israelis have died in the recent fighting, and thousands more have been injured, many seriously. CARE again calls for all sides to agree on an immediate ceasefire and end all violence that targets or injures civilians; immediate and unfettered humanitarian access to civilians in need; and a comprehensive and permanent truce.

About CARE: CARE is one of the world's largest humanitarian aid agencies, providing assistance in nearly 70 countries. CARE has been working in Gaza since 1948, implementing programs in food security, health and water, support for civil society groups, and distributions of fresh food.