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Creative solutions needed for Gaza recovery

15 May 2009

Older man standing in front of Red Cross vehicleAlan Meier/ICRCAs recovery in the Gaza Strip continues, efforts to provide the population with even the most basic services, such as water and sanitation, are severely hampered by restrictions on imports of construction materials, fuel and electricity.

"It's a great challenge to carry out construction projects in the Strip, as building materials cannot be imported," said Marek Komarzynski, an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) engineer working in Gaza. "Humanitarian organisations such as the ICRC are forced either to come up with alternative and creative ways of proceeding or to put essential projects on hold."

This week, the ICRC began work upgrading a wastewater treatment plant, in the southern Gaza town of Rafah. When the project is completed, the plant will treat 20,000 cubic metres of wastewater per day and serve 175,000 inhabitants.

Relief and recovery

The British Red Cross Gaza Crisis Appeal has so far raised £325,000 and the organisation was allocated a further £521,000 from the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal. We currently have a relief delegate working with the ICRC in Gaza and a physiotherapist working in the Gaza Artificial Limb and Polio Orthopaedic Centre.

Andy Brimelow, British Red Cross head of international finance, returned from a monitoring mission in April where he met with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) and ICRC to see the progress of operations and use of British Red Cross funds. He said: “The ICRC and PRCS were handing out relief the day after hostilities stopped, this went on from 19 Jan-19 March.

“It’s clear that the items provided were the things that were needed. Even though many people are staying at other people’s houses, they still need mattresses, blankets, kitchen sets and hygiene sets.”

Challenging logistics

Andy continued: “When you speak to the logistics people here, they say moving things around is very difficult. The situation is still tense and we need to be prepared for whatever might happen.

“Some people are homeless, some are in camps but most people are staying with relatives. There is currently no re-building because of the difficulty of getting materials into Gaza. Only relief items can get through.”

British Red Cross support

We have supported the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement response by:

  • funding ICRC medical supplies for the first three months of 2009
  • funding an ambulance and a truck for transporting relief supplies, including candles, mattresses, blankets and first aid kits for the PRCS
  • donating £50,000 to Magen David Adom (National Society of Israel) for their disaster management activities.

Read more about the Red Cross and Red Crescent in Gaza

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