PRESS RELEASE: ANERA Responds to Gaza Crisis
Washington, DC | January 9, 2009 – ANERA reports that 81 pallets of fortified milk were successfully delivered into Gaza last night. Approximately half were delivered to Khan Younis and half to Gaza City. The milk, originally intended for ANERA’s Milk for Preschoolers program, would normally feed 20,000 preschoolers every school day until the end of the academic year. Now, a large portion of the milk will be used to provide emergency relief to hungry children until schools can be rebuilt and classes restarted.
This delivery is part of ANERA’s first-level response to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza which will channel $600,000 from private donors to immediate relief efforts, invest $1 million in the Milk for Preschoolers program and distribute $4 million worth of donated medicines and other supplies.
ANERA will be delivering prepackaged food parcels which include lentils, rice and sugar – currently being purchased and assembled in the West Bank – to underserved areas outside of Gaza City. Funds have also been allocated for transportation and warehousing, the hire of temporary laborers, and purchasing plastic coverings to be used to replace blown-out windows and patch holes in roofs and walls.
As a long-time shipper and distributor of donated supplies, ANERA has 4 shipments, worth more than $4 million, of hygiene kits, medicines and other health care supplies ready to enter Gaza. In addition, some supplies that had been sent to the West Bank will be diverted to Gaza relief.
Once fighting subsides, ANERA will invest significant funds toward preschool infrastructure repair, a project already planned before the artillery damage and now more essential than ever. “This work will get children off the streets and into a safe environment where they can be children again,” says ANERA’s President Bill Corcoran. ANERA also will repair or replace damaged water tanks on homes and re-establish connections between water mains and houses.
To revitalize the economy in Gaza, ANERA will increase its contributions to the Gaza Women’s Loan Fund, a micro loan program ANERA started in 1995 which has helped thousands of women begin and expand their small businesses in Gaza. These loans will play an important role in re-establishing the kinds of sustainable businesses that support families and communities. Additionally, ANERA will expand its environmental clean-up projects which provide desperately needed short-term work. In the wake of the destruction, there will also be a lot of debris to remove.
For nearly two years, ANERA has been helping traumatized children in Gaza to cope with distress caused by mounting poverty, political uncertainty, isolation and violence. After the fighting ends, children – the most vulnerable and impressionable segment of the population – will need more psychosocial help than ever. ANERA will provide it through the Childhood Well-Being Project, an ongoing partnership with the Institute for Conflict Resolution, where children will learn problem-solving, reconciliation, anger management and coping skills. The program’s lead psychologist claims that 100% of Gaza’s children are now damaged in various emotional ways.
Finally, ANERA is looking forward to restarting and expanding the Milk for Preschoolers program, which provides milk and biscuits fortified with essential vitamins to preschoolers throughout Gaza.
“In the coming weeks and months,” says Corcoran, “depending on security conditions and the opening of crossings, we will move ahead with the monumental work of rebuilding Gaza. Thankfully, we have the staff in Gaza and support from around the world to help recover from the destruction that has been wrought.”