It’s a state of emergency in Gaza

By Sami Matar

Conditions in Gaza now are worse than they have ever been. Across all the governorates, the percentages of people who are jobless, who don’t have enough to eat, is up. Seventy percent of people in Gaza are food insecure.

I see it in my own neighborhood and it’s the same situation everywhere in Gaza. People are suffering. Most of the people here are jobless. Even the people working with the government are only getting a fraction of their salaries.

Like everyone else, most of my neighbors have trouble finding food. People tell me that they have been unable to afford a meal with chicken or other meat for over a month. I know people who are only eating lentils day after day.

When I ask what would help them most, they tell me that they need a reliable, consistent source of money to buy the basics.

Food distributions from NGOs are essential now. The situation resulting from the closure is making things more difficult. Shortages in medicines are also becoming dire.

This week I have been driving across Gaza for Anera’s food distributions to Rafah, Khan Younis, Deir Al Balah, Gaza City and Beit Hanoun. In every area, the food parcels we bring are not enough. There are many people, who are not on our lists of recipients, congregating around our distribution centers asking for help.

I have had to assure many people who came up to me that if we get additional food packages we will consider them.

Even clothes. People cannot buy clothing for their children. Traditionally parents buy some special clothes and other gifts for Eid at the end of Ramadan. This year many will be unable to give their growing children something new.

Recently my neighbor asked my wife not to throw any food in the garbage. Please bring it to me instead he said.

The outlook is only getting worse. People see very little hope and are expecting the worst over the next months. Something must give. Gaza doesn’t deserve this difficult, bad life. Nobody should expect us to live like this.

Every day, people come to the Anera office, or stop me in the street. In my neighborhood I see the same people every day. I tell my kids, if our neighbors need anything and we can help we must. When my kids go to buy something, they buy some for the other kids. This thing — this situation — is killing us.

Sami Matar is a project engineer in the Anera Gaza office

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