Save the Children Begins Large-scale Relief Effort for Children in Gaza Following Cease-fire Baby and Hygiene Kits Rapidly Transported into Gaza

JERUSALEM (Jan. 18, 2009) — Save the Children is moving quickly to deliver life-saving aid into Gaza for children and families in need, following the announcement of a cease-fire by all parties today. A truckload of 100 baby kits, 150 hygiene kits and more than 1,400 packages of diapers prepared by Save the Children was transported this morning into Gaza, where staff and local partners began delivering the items to families at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency shelters in Beit Lahia and Jebaliya.

Save the Children welcomes the cease-fire by all parties and hopes it will be sustained, paving the way for a durable peace that will benefit all children both within Gaza and Israel. The agency also calls for sustained, unhindered humanitarian access for humanitarian agencies to reach very vulnerable Gazan families with crucial emergency relief. “Save the Children welcomes the immediate access for humanitarian agencies into Gaza following the cease-fire, which allowed us to quickly move much-needed relief items into Gaza,” said Annie Foster, Save the Children’s team leader for the Gaza emergency response. “But the situation still is dire. Children and their families have been without basic services and supplies for nearly a month. Our staff delivering supplies at one shelter today told us people broke out into applause when diapers for infants and toddlers were delivered.”

Save the Children Reaches More Than 25,000 Children and Families with Aid Since the conflict began on December 27th, the global humanitarian agency has reached more than 25,000 people, half of them children, with food packages in north and south Gaza. An additional 4,000 people were reached today in Jebaliya, Beit Lahia and East Gaza City with food parcels, packages of diapers, baby kits (containing items such as blankets, baby clothing, diaper rash cream and diapers) and hygiene kits (containing items such as hand soap, dish soap and toilet paper). Over the next few days, Save the Children expects to deliver plastic carpets to act as a barrier between mattresses and the cold ground, bottled water, clothing kits and food packages to families at shelters.

In addition, Save the Children is preparing more hygiene and baby kits to be transported and distributed into Gaza. “Save the Children is scaling up to be able to broaden our response in Gaza,” said Foster. “Over 3,000 women have delivered newborns, often with little support, and without basic supplies to meet their babies’ specific needs. In addition, there has been no support for children suffering from the stress of what has been happening around them.” In preparation for an expanded response, Save the Children submitted the names of five key emergency staff members to the United Nations for its priority staff list to enter the area as soon as humanitarian agencies and additional personnel are permitted to enter the conflict zone, and is renewing its global appeal for $10 million to be able to scale-up its relief efforts.

Helping Children Recover and Return to Normalcy

“Our immediate focus is on meeting the life-saving needs of children and their families. But much more must be done to address the child-protection crisis that has developed as a result of more than three weeks of fighting,” added Foster. Save the Children will print child-protection leaflets early next week for distribution with its other supplies.

The leaflets will feature telephone help lines for children to call, with pictures on how to identify unexploded ordnance and other dangers, and advice for parents on how to console their children if they are suffering from signs of stress. The organization also is packaging safe play kits for quick distribution to Gazan children, which will support their coping mechanisms and allow a return to normalcy.

“The best way to deal with emotional distress is to get children back into a routine — that is, to sleep the night through, play with their friends, go to school and return to their family routine,” said Foster. “Our initial response will focus on establishing areas where children have the space to be children.”

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the Children needs your support to help us meet the most critical needs of children and families in Gaza. Your donation will help us provide drinking water, improved sanitation, food distribution and other necessities. Learn More Save the Children (www.savethechildren.org) is the leading, independent organization creating lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world.

For more than 75 years, Save the Children has worked to improve the lives of children and their families through programs in health, education and economic opportunities, and during times of crisis and conflict. Save the Children USA is a member of the International Save the Children Alliance, a global network of 27 independent

Save the Children organizations working to ensure the well-being and protection of children in more than 100 countries.

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Filed under Gaza, Humanitarian, Palestine

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