Sydney charity worker in Gaza tells of conflict’s ‘heartbreaking’ toll on children
An Australian humanitarian worker based in Gaza said the escalating conflict is having a particularly “heartbreaking” impact on the children in the region, with dozens killed and injured.
Jason Lee from Sydney is Save the Children’s Country Director for the region.
He said his teams in Gaza, where the charity has permanent operations, simply can’t get in to help amid the ongoing conflict with Israel.
Mr Lee, from Erskineville in the city’s Inner West, said the crisis is escalating.
“The situation in Gaza is actually really bad at the moment, it’s getting worse and worse every day,” he told 9News from East Jerusalem.
“You’ve got about 198 people killed, including 58 children.
“You’ve got over 1200 injured, a quarter children.
“Since the start of the conflict on May 14 you’ve got on average three children being injured every single hour.
“And these are life-changing injuries. Life-changing disabilities and they’ll have the mental trauma of what they’re seeing.”
But his team is unable to get in to deliver humanitarian aid.
His teams are on standby but have to way to access the area.
Mr Lee said money is what people need the most.
“The minute there is access and movement within Gaza, our teams are poised to give immediate cash assistance to the families that need it,” he said.
“Cash is necessary because people have fled their homes, they’ve got nowhere to live, they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
“They can’t afford any medicines so it’s critical that we actually reach them.”
Power and basic supplies are running low, in what Mr Lee describes as an unfolding “humanitarian catastrophe”.
Mr Lee has previously worked in conflict zones, including Afghanistan, Yemen, Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Thailand.
He said a lot of his workers from the area have been forced to flee their homes with their families.
“One of my team tells his child that the fireworks are for (religious celebration) Eid.
“They don’t know exactly what’s going on but they’re not stupid.
“His children are scared, constantly.
“It’s heartbreaking for him because he feels powerless. He can’t do anything to protect his own kids.”
Save The Children is calling for a ceasefire, and for the blockade on Gaza to be lifted.
The charity has claimed power lines have been damaged and fuel supplies can’t get in, causing outages throughout the region.
Getting vital supplies in is not the only issue. The injured can not leave to get medical help.
Save the Children cited a United Nations (UN) report warning that almost half a million people have limited or no access to water.
“Save the Children warns of a triple shock in Gaza,” it said in a statement.
“Bombardments are continuing and health facilities and civilian infrastructure could soon be left without the power needed to deliver crucial supplies and emergency treatment.
“In addition, critically ill and injured children are unable to leave Gaza for treatment.
“Save the Children is calling for the blockade on Gaza to be urgently lifted as children’s lives hang in the balance.
“The Government of Israel and all parties must allow aid workers to reach children with life-saving support, as well as the unimpeded entry of essential supplies and fuel.”