What the Gates Foundation Is Doing to Help People in Gaza

The ongoing violence in Gaza has resulted in hundreds of Palestinian deaths, and an estimated 350,000 (and counting) people who are displaced and seeking shelter. The Gates Foundation's grant will go toward the support of World Vision's work in the region, even though the organization has suspended its formal operations.

World Vision, which has been working the area for about forty years, recently cited security reasons for putting a hold on its formal programming in Gaza. Four World Vision sponsored children who were recently killed due to Israeli air strikes, and all of the children in the organization's Northern Gaza Area Development Program are currently displaced from their homes.

Although the organization isn't carrying on with its formal programs at this time, it is continuing to provide what it calls "Psychological First Aid" for children and families. The organization estimates that nearly 375,000 children are in need of specialized psychosocial care. World Vision is also continuing to supply hospitals and healthcare facilities with needed medical supplies.

Alex Snary, World Vision’s Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza National Director stated:

While we have suspended our operations in Gaza, we continue to provide psychosocial support for children who have been injured, lost a family member or lost their homes. We are trying to do that in the most difficult situation, reaching out to children in the hospitals, in their homes and even in UNRWA schools where they are taking shelter with their families.

Does the recent $500,000 from Gates mean that World Vision is going to resume its activities? We can’t really say. The organization does hustle during tenuous ceasefires, reaching out to families to help with food assistance, sanitation, and child protection. However, these efforts are also hindered by the destruction of the area’s basic infrastructure, making it difficult for World Vision workers to even reach the people who need their assistance.

Once the conflict ends, World Vision will work to get more supplies to the already taxed local hospitals as well as reopen its 12 "child friendly spaces" staffed with psychological support teams. According to Alex Snary, these spaces can begin the intake process within two days after the fighting ends. In the longer term, the organization plans begin working with smaller scale food distribution programs with UN Agencies and begin helping farmers and fishermen rebuild and reestablish their lives and livelihoods.

Related: Gates Foundation: Fundraising for Disasters