Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Churchin America (ELCA) provided $50,000 Jan. 8 to secure food aid,trauma counseling and medical care in Gaza.
News – HCEF

Violence in Gaza has compromised the services of medical clinics and limited people's access to food, water and other basic necessities, according to Megan Bradfield, associate director for international development and disaster response, ELCA Global Mission.

Since air raids in Gaza began in late December, more than 900 Palestinians have died, including nearly 400 women and children. Ten Israeli soldiers and three Israeli civilians have died, according to news reports.

ELCA International Disaster Response sent the funds to Action by Churches Together (ACT) for implementation by the Middle East Council of Churches' Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees (DSPR).

"Based on the situation in Gaza, ACT has given priority to an immediate 10-day response to support four primary emergency activities," said Bradfield. The activities are to provide emergency medicine and medical supplies for DSPR clinics and the Al Ahil Hospital; distribute food aid and blankets to children, nursing mothers and others; and secure trauma counseling for people affected by the conflict.

DSPR-operated clinics located in areas with military activity "have been operating on and off," said Bradfield. "As soon as (there's) normalcy and military activities do not
threaten the lives of patients and medical staff, the clinics will reopen to provide emergency and primary health care," she said.

On Jan. 12 an Israeli missile destroyed an ACT-operated hospital in Shijaiya, Gaza, Bradfield said. Established in 1968, the hospital provided treatment free-of-charge to community residents living below the poverty line.

Fresh water sources for homes and hospitals are also scarce and "rolling blackouts have plagued the region for more than a week. As a result, water pumps and sewage networks are not functioning," said Bradfield.

Coordinated by ELCA Global Mission, International Disaster Response channels its funds through international church organizations and relief agencies. Funds provide for food, medicine, drinking water, emergency shelter and other materials for survivors of disasters.

ACT is a global alliance of churches and related agencies working to save lives and support communities in emergency situations worldwide. It is based in Geneva with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). The ELCA is a member of the WCC and LWF.