On February the 9th Caritas Jerusalem, began distributing 1,040 food parcels to 520 families in Gaza. The food parcels have been stored at the Holy Family warehouse that is run by our Parish priest Fr. Mussallem.
In line, needy Gazan families waited inside the warehouse to receive their food parcels. Amin Sabag, our secretary prepared a list of names of the families who will receive the parcels. Four volunteers were working along with Amin. The time spent everyday to distribute the parcels was almost 11 hours.
One woman gently took out her pen to sign the sheet.
With much excitement she peaked inside and said:
“These food items will last for a while. I am really happy to see the flour and sugar but I am so excited to eat the good quality cheese and Halaweh.” Then she added: “These parcels are something great.”
The food parcels contain items such as: Oil, flour, rice, sugar, tea, tomato paste, meat cans, tuna, sardine, spaghetti, lentils, halaweh, beans, chick peas, milk, tahina (sesame cream).
For Amin and his colleagues, this week has been very busy and strenuous but he is happy to see that the process of working and helping has begun. He said, “People expressed much happiness when they were handed the food parcels. They were very appreciative.”
Some families were completely cut off from humanitarian aid for weeks. They had to stay sheltered and when fighting was so intense it was impossible for them to get out of their homes.
Already, 480 families have received their food parcels. Amin hopes that by today, February 13, 2009 all food parcels will be distributed.
The distribution of the food process took much longer than expected due to many procedures and obstacles imposed by Israel, one of these obstacles was addressed by the UN special representative for children in armed conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, she told reporters in her visit that, “It is absolutely crucial that Israel allow the crossings to be opened and also expand the list of items that go in.”
In order for the food parcels to be delivered into Gaza a long and tedious procedure had to be followed. Caritas Jerusalem had to fill out a request form called CMR (Cargo Movement Request), including the number of pallets, consignee, contents, number of parcels, and the addresses in Gaza had to be filled out.
Then all pallets had to be delivered to UNRWA warehouses in Ramallah and then UNRWA delivers them to their warehouses in Jerusalem. After the pallets arrive at the UNRWA warehouse in Jerusalem they are loaded into their trucks and then sent to Gaza. When the food parcels arrived into Gaza, our project coordinator Jouma’ Khadoura had to coordinate the unloading and distribution process.
Prior to any distribution in Gaza a list of names was handed out by the Ministry of Social Affairs to NGO’s to assure that the food parcels are reached to the right area zones to avoid duplication.
According to the Caritas Jerusalem project manager Jameel Khoury, this process wastes much time. “Coordinating the delivery of the food packages into Gaza takes much time. The time spent coordinating the delivery of the food parcels many hungry people become hungrier.”