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Gaza: violence will worsen plight of already-suffering civilians

International aid agency Act for Peace is alarmed at the escalation of violence in and around Gaza following the death of a senior Hamas figure, and deeply concerned about the worsening humanitarian plight of the people of Gaza as a result of the violence. Act for Peace denounces all forms of armed violence, including the rockets from Gaza and the strikes from Israel.

Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia, has supported partners in Gaza providing emergency relief and health care services for more than 20 years.

Act for Peace’s Misha Coleman has been working on projects in Gaza for the past three years, responding to the escalating humanitarian situation caused by the Israeli blockade.

“The residents of Gaza are living in jail-like conditions and die waiting for access to medical treatment that is only available on the other side of the wall. They suffer daily from the effects of the Israeli blockade, from shortages of water, electricity and fuel to severely restricted access to essential medicines and medical equipment.


“This humanitarian situation in Gaza will drastically worsen as violence escalates and we are deeply concerned at the number of innocent lives that may be lost.”

Act for Peace’s project partner, the Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees, provides health care to more than 80,000 people a year through its health clinics in Gaza. This includes psychological support to address the prevailing issue of trauma stemming from the conflict there, as well as specialist child and maternal health care, health education, and anti-malnutrition programs.

In January 2009, during Operation Cast Lead, our partner’s clinic was destroyed by bombing. Construction efforts were hampered by the difficulty of getting building materials into Gaza, but the clinic has now been rebuilt. Donations by Australians through Act for Peace’s Christmas Bowl appeal helped to fund this rebuilding work.

Available for interview: Alistair Gee, Executive Director, Act for Peace; and Misha Coleman, who through Act for Peace runs a new Church Refugee initiative. Ms Coleman is co-chair of the Middle East working group of the Australian Council for International Development, the peak body for Australian NGOs working in overseas humanitarian aid. A documentary Ms Coleman produced was launched at Parliament House in Canberra 2011 and resulted in a cross-party motion being adopted in the Senate, supporting women in Gaza who have breast cancer, the number one cause of death in women there.
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