Wednesday December 18, 2013

Gaza floods 2013 – Islamic Relief responds

As the Middle East faces some of the worst winter storms in decades, the world’s attention has been on the plight of Syrian refugees – but they are not alone in their suffering.

Over 5,000 families were forced to leave their homes when rainy storms flooded Gaza’s narrow streets this month. Houses have been damaged, more than 100 people were injured in car accidents and several more wounded as they tried to escape the rising water.

The streets resembled an impoverished Venice as small boats carried families away from their flooded homes to safety. Many sought refuge in schools and public buildings, where the Islamic Relief Palestine team were quick to provide blankets, mattresses and hygiene kits.

“[I’m] proud of Gazans. I’ve seen aid workers taking off their jackets to cover women shivering from the cold,” tweeted IR Palestine’s Hatem Shurrab. “So many homes damaged by floods but spirits still high.”

Hatem had been unable to send any messages for a few days however, as severe fuel shortages had been causing power cuts and blackouts lasting up to 16 hours. Last month, when the sole power plant in Gaza ran out of fuel, a pump station in Gaza City was unable to keep operating and spilled untreated sewage into nearby homes – so these new rain floods could not come at a worse time for families already struggling to recover.

I have little children all overwhelmed with sewage water and dirt. I threw away the mattresses and food,” said one woman. “Even the wood we were using for heating is full of water now. I have no gas to cook for my children. Everything is over.”

Islamic Relief plans to continue supporting displaced Gazans with food aid and warm children’s clothing, as well as helping families rebuild their homes in the long term. Images of our support so far can be seen below.

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