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MADRE Co-Sponsors a Delegation to Gaza

Posted on: Thursday, March 5, 2009

Keywords: Palestine, Israel, Peace Building, Middle East, Emergency Relief

MADRE is co-sponosoring Codepink's delegation to Gaza where they are meeting with several organizations, including MADRE's partner organization in Gaza, the Palestinian Medical Relief Society.

From Codepink's website:

Itinerary:
    Meet up in Cairo, Egypt on March 5
    Travel to Gaza on March 6
    Meetings/program in Gaza March 7-10

    Return to Cairo March 11
    International delegates return home March 12

Program: Meetings with UN and government officials, local women (including victims of Israeli violence),  humanitarian/development agencies, journalists, health workers and political analysts. Visit areas devastated by Israeli attacks.

Purpose of the trip: Provide humanitarian and emotional support to women and women's organizations in Gaza; Exert pressure on US, Egyptian and Israeli governments to lift the blockade and promote peace/human rights in the region.

Organizers: The trip is organized by CODEPINK: Women for Peace and will be led by CODEPINK cofounders Medea Benjamin and Jodie Evans. Sponsoring groups include National Congress of Black Women, Global Exchange, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, American Muslim Voice and Women's Intercultural Network.

For more information: contact gaza.codepink[at]gmail.com

Background: Palestinian women in Gaza have been devastated. We have seen the agonizing pictures of wailing women digging through the rubble of their destroyed homes to look for their buried children.  We heard the stories of the dead mothers whose emaciated children were found hanging onto their bodies for days until reached by aid workers.

The Israeli attack that began on December 27 left over 1,000 dead, including 412 children and 110 women, and over 5,000 injured (1855 children and 795 women), according to the United Nations Children's Fund. But that but that attack came after 18 months of a crippling blockade that had left the Palestinian population hungry, sick, weak, and already suffering from what UN officials called a catastrophic situation.

Women now have to care for the physical and emotional wounds in their families and communities, while dealing with their own broken hearts. They have to attend to the physical needs of their families in the face of shortages of water, electricity, food, medicine, heat, fuel, and shelter. Some neighborhoods have been almost totally destroyed, with over 100,000 people displaced from their homes.

According to the United Nations, "Children are hungry, cold, without electricity and running water, and above all, they're terrified. Women are at greater risk of maternal death and or injury as maternity wards are being used as surgical facilities to treat the wounded."

There are huge medical needs. Twenty-one medical facilities were damaged during the fighting, and there are severe shortages of emergency supplies, including sterilization equipment, needles, anesthetics, catheters, oxygen and essential medications.

The UN says that hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid are needed to help Gaza's 1.4 million people and billions of dollars will be required to rebuild its shattered buildings and infrastructure.

Groups in Gaza that we will be supporting include:
The Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) is a grassroots, community-based Palestinian health organization. PMRS was founded in 1979 by a group of Palestinian doctors and health professionals seeking to supplement the decayed and inadequate health infrastructure caused by years of Israeli military occupation. It is non-profit, voluntary, and one of the largest health NGOs in Palestine. PMRS is national health programs emphasize prevention, education, community participation, and the empowerment of people. In 2008, an Israeli airstrike destroyed its head office in Gaza, including its main pharmacy, an ambulance and a loan center for handicapped people.  http://www.pmrs.ps/last/index.php

The Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP) is a Palestinian non-governmental, non-profit organization established in 1990 to provide comprehensive community mental health services - therapy, training and research - to the population of the Gaza Strip. Since that time, the Gaza Strip - one of the most densely populated areas in the world, with two thirds of the population being refugees and 50% being younger than 16 years - has witnessed extreme forms of violence and suffering, due to Israeli occupation and military operations. This made the extent of mental health problems in the Gaza reach unprecedented levels. http://www.gcmhp.net/

The Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC) was founded in 1983 by a group of Palestinian agronomists responding voluntarily to the deterioration in agricultural extension programs in the Jordan Valley area of the West Bank as a result of the Israeli occupation by offering expert advice to marginalized, poor farmers in the area. This voluntary effort gained momentum and recognition over a short period of time, and, transformed into a non governmental organization dedicated to promoting sustainable development in rural areas in Palestine. Unfortunately, when the Israeli Defense Forces began bombing Gaza on December 27, 2009, PARC's offices were severely damaged, along with the rooftop and backyard gardens at the core of their urban farm program. http://www.parc.ps/about/about.html

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights The Centre is an independent Palestinian human rights organization based in Gaza City. The Centre was established in 1995 by a group of Palestinian lawyers and human rights activists. It documents rights violations by the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Its lawyers defend victims of human rights abuses, from cases of illegal detention to torture.  http://www.pchrgaza.org/ 


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