Humanitarian aid is a lifeline but cannot singlehandedly end suffering, warns Islamic Relief.

Islamic Relief is highlighting the plight of Palestinians who are being pushed to the edge by the Covid-19 pandemic, adding to the pressures created by years of occupation, blockade and conflict.

“The Israeli occupation has spanned over 50 years, with devastating effects on every aspect of life in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” says Muneeb Abu-Ghazaleh, country director of Islamic Relief Palestine.

“Restrictions often dictate whether Palestinians can earn a living, access their farmland, attend a protest and even receive water and electricity. Conditions are particularly dire in Gaza, which is almost totally cut off from the rest of the world.”

Now Gaza’s economy is closer than ever to total collapse as the Covid-19 pandemic deepens unemployment and poverty and pushes the already struggling healthcare system to breaking point.

Rapidly deteriorating conditions in Gaza

Dependency on aid is an everyday reality for many people, including university graduate Wassim, 25. The little he earned as a barber covered his family’s basic expenses and paid for medical treatment for his wife, who has epilepsy, and his father, who has cancer.

“With coronavirus everything stopped,” he says, describing the impact of restrictions introduced to reduce transmission of the deadly virus. “I don’t have the money to buy the necessary medication. My soul is tired. I am afraid for my children and I am afraid of losing my wife and my parents.”

Islamic Relief has been helping tens of thousands of people like Wassim by providing food vouchers, food packs and hygiene kits. We have also been disinfecting public spaces and equipping hospitals, health centres and quarantine centres.

Since 1997 we have reached 6 million people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories through humanitarian and development programmes worth £109 million.

In Gaza we are providing food, clean water, safer homes and support for vulnerable children, while our integrated approach to all these different areas of support helps families break out of aid dependency.

These projects stand as symbols of hope and opportunity for a generation of people that have undergone decades of control. We hope that together – through support for sustainable livelihoods, education and engaging young people – the people of Gaza can build a future free from poverty.

We understand humanitarian aid alone cannot end the suffering. We need long-term investment within the various sectors including manufacturing, agriculture and technology. Only then will a viable solution be created, with the aim of giving the community the power and right to control its development, and finally the necessary employment opportunities for the next generation of Palestinian youth in the Occupied Territories.

Learn more in ‘Islamic Relief in the Occupied Palestinian Territories’, and donate to our Coronavirus Appeal now to support our life-saving work.