Benedict XVI has applauded the ceasefire agreement reached in Gaza, and has called on all Christians to support the efforts of those who are working for peace.Benedict XVII call on you at the same time, to join in prayer with the efforts of many people of good will who are trying to stop the tragedy. I greatly hope that they know how to wisely take advantage of the small openings to restore the truce and start moving towards peaceful and long-lasting solutions.
The Pope has sent a donation to help rebuild the area. He remembered the victims of the violence during the Angelus, and said that there is room for all in the Holy Land. He encouraged both sides to create the conditions necessary to resume a normal life. Many nongovernmental organizations like the Catholic charity Caritas are playing a role. Claudette Habesch is secretary general of Caritas in Jerusalem. Her organization runs six medical centers on the Gaza Strip. Claudette Habesch
Secretary General, Caritas JerusalemOur Acting Medical Director has asked to sleep in the center, so that he can provide services 24 hours per day. According to our last figures, they have been able to reach out to more than 2,000 patients.
The Gaza medical centers are overcrowded and overworked. Even so, the organization has set new goals, such as bringing two ambulances to the Strip, as well as food and blankets. Conor O'Loughlin
Humanitarian Communications Officer, Caritas JerusalemThere's tens of thousands of people living in schools because they've lost their homes, and whole families are sharing blankets: three, four, five people to one blanket, and there's really cold temperatures at night time. So these blankets are really important to help these people stay warm.Barbara Dranke
Foundation for Social Promotion of Culture (Jerusalem)
During the first moments, the help that is being offered is sending the things that are most in need, like blankets, medicines and food.
The Foundation for the Social Promotion of Culture, a Spanish NGO, is also working in Gaza. It is not affiliated with any religion, but it draws inspiration from Christian values.
To do their jobs, they have to overcome many obstacles, among them bombardments which have destroyed the Al Maghazi hospital. Claudette Habesch
Secretary General, Caritas JerusalemIt was totally destroyed with all the equipment. The equipment included what a regular dispensory has: beds, lamps, equipment. 10 homes around our center were also totally destroyed. Some 20 homes were partially destroyed.
The monetary costs of damages in the Gaza Strip are estimated at $1.4 billion. For this reason, the work of the NGOs will not stop once the fighting is over.Barbara Dranke
Foundation for Social Promotion of Culture (Jerusalem) We are also studying the situation so that in the long run, we can help these institutions with rebuilding their infrastructure, their equipment, and above all else, to give coverage to the neediest population, the ones who are really suffering from this disastrous situation.
The Pope pointed out that there was room for all in the Holy Land, and these volunteers are doing what they can so that even the most hard-hit area of the conflict becomes a dignified place to live.