A major global Christian aid group is warning of looming “devastation” amid the Israel-Hamas war as it struggles to get direly needed humanitarian supplies to civilians affected by the deadly conflict.
Aid to the Church in Need, a charity organization whose roots stretch back to the end of the Second World War, is active in the Holy Land and has stepped up efforts since the Israel-Hamas war erupted earlier this month after Hamas attacked Israel and invaded its borders, resulting in the deaths and kidnappings of hundreds.
ACN spokeswoman Maria Lozano said the group was in the midst of preparing its Christmas 2023 aid campaign when the war broke out on Oct. 7.
“The tragic events of [October] have escalated the need for assistance into an emergency situation,” she told CNA.
“We had committed, for example, to supporting the Holy Rosary Sisters in repairing their school in Gaza, which had already been damaged due to the ongoing conflict between Palestine and Israel,” she said. “Now, of course, this project has been put on hold, also because the school is located in a neighborhood that has been heavily bombarded. They need medicine and food.”
The group is also working in the West Bank and has been in contact with the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. “ACN has offered its support to assist them in any way possible during this dire situation,” Lozano said.
‘Terrible economic crisis’ looms
The conflict, which has reportedly seen more than 4,000 killed in the Gaza Strip from Israel’s counterattacks, is also bringing about what Lozano warned could be a major economic catastrophe.
“Israel is in a state of war. More than 90% of tourists have already left the country and future pilgrimages are being canceled,” she said. “This will translate into a terrible economic crisis for many Christian families, since around 70% of Christians work in the tourism sector.”
That sector includes those who earn a living “selling souvenirs, as bus drivers, receptionists, and so on,” Lozano said.