A month on from Gaza ceasefire up to 100,000 people remain homeless

At least 100,000 people, including up to 56,000 children, remain displaced with many continuing to take shelter in tents or crowding into remaining homes with other families, one month since the Gaza ceasefire was declared.

Save the Children UK
February 16, 2009

"As hopes for a truce are dashed Save the Children are deeply concerned for all these people dependent on aid for their daily existance and everyone else affected by the conflict", Save the Children UK's chief executive Jasmine Whitbread speaking from Gaza City, said today.

Save the Children is calling on the new Israeli administration, however it is configured, to focus immediate attention on the Gaza crisis and provide free access for humanitarian assistance to aid agencies.

Around 500,000 people including 280,000 children were forced from their homes at some point during the conflict. Where whole neighborhoods were destroyed 'tent cities' have sprung up and are now home to hundreds of people, many without access to clean drinking water and toilets.

"Whole communities have pitched tents so they can be close to the remains of their homes," said Ms Whitbread. "However, the tents are small and offer no protection from the low temperatures at night that can reach less than 7-8 degrees Celsius. There is also not enough clean drinking water, while some camps of up to 40 families have to share only one or two toilets between them. This poses obvious health risks.

"Thousands of children are now living in poor conditions, struggling to keep warm and fed. Many are already severely distressed from having witnessed the fighting and now they are having to cope with losing their homes with little prospect of returning to any sense of normality," Ms Whitbread added.

It is also thought that more than 70,000 people, including 40,000 children, have been forced into cramped accommodation, sharing with friends and families, who are struggling to find enough food, water and items such as blankets and clothes for everyone. Save the Children staff have come across small apartments, with no access to water, where as many as 18 people are sharing floor space.

Ms Whitbread continued: "As it's one of the most densely populated areas in the world, for those who can't return to their homes few options remain. Thousands of families are faced with either having to live in tents or living with other families in overcrowded homes. Children cannot continue to live in these conditions

"Save the Children desperately hope that any truce will allow an easing of the tight border controls to allow unrestricted humanitarian and commercial access with a steady flow of goods allowed in and out so Gaza can be rebuilt and its economy revived so that people can begin to return to some semblance of normality.

"However the new Israeli Government is configured they, along with other world leaders, have to address the humanitarian situation in Gaza."

We are also calling for the proposed ceasefire to be used as a chance to broker a more sustainable peace deal with world leaders throwing their full support behind it to help ensure there is no chance for fighting to be renewed.

Throughout the recent conflict in Gaza, we've provided humanitarian relief to children and families affected by the violence, reaching more than 58,000 people with lifesaving food and water, and hygiene kits for babies and families. Please help us to reach more families.

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Jasmine Whitbread is sending updates from Gaza on Twitter: www.twitter.com/stcukceo Follow @stcukceo on Twitter

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