Friday, January 16, 2009

World Vision calls for immediate stop to Gaza violence

International aid organization preparing to "pick up the pieces and rebuild"

December 29, 2008— As casualties in the Gaza Strip increase by the hour and official figures now cite more than 300 killed and hundreds more wounded, international humanitarian organization World Vision continues to call for an immediate end to the violence and for active efforts to protect civilians, especially children.

In an effort to stop the attack and avoid a humanitarian catastrophe, World Vision and other leading non-governmental organizations issued a clear statement even as the Israeli army commenced its attacks.

“We utterly condemn Hamas's rocket attacks on Israeli civilians,” said Allyn Dhynes, advocacy manager with World Vision in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. “At the same time, we cannot justify this overwhelming military action by the Israelis which is killing and injuring many innocent civilians.”

World Vision staff have minimized operations due to insecurity, but staff living in Gaza have visited program areas and continue to assess the situation.

“As soon as the dust settles – literally – we will pick up the pieces and rebuild the work we started successfully in this area years ago,” said Charles Clayton, World Vision’s National Director in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Psycho-social care, educational support and recreational activities for children are at the core of World Vision's work. “The recent violence will be a set-back, and as yet we don't know if any of our beneficiaries are among the dead or wounded,” said Clayton.

The number of casualties has completely overwhelmed the limited health services, which has already been starved of essential surgical supplies by the 18-month Israeli blockade against the import of goods including most humanitarian supplies. The recent strikes have also caused severe damage to the civilian infrastructure with many areas now without water, electricity or sanitation.

World Vision's main concern is for the ordinary families and especially vulnerable people such as the elderly, the sick and young children. About 50,000 people, most of them extremely poor, are in two of World Vision’s program areas in Beit Lahia and Rafah, said Dhynes.

World Vision staff are available for interview. Please contact Casey Calamusa at 206.310.5476 or

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