Friday, January 09, 2009

A Death In Gaza

I just received this email from my daughter Yona.

She is reacting to an email she received from a friend. Yona has worked the past few years as an international development worker in Thailand and Indonesia. The reference in the first line is to a friend of hers, a Canadian aid worker, killed in Afghanistan.

Yona had sent this email to a group of friends and relatives.

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Hi everyone, I'm sorry; I wasn't going to post this, because it's so sad, and brings back many memories of my own friend who was killed in Kabul this year. But maybe that's all the more reason to post it. One of the workers for CARE's food distribution program, Mohammed Al-Samouni, was killed on Monday in an attack that killed most of his extended family. His ten-month-old son was seriously injured - he died in hospital. Mohammed's wife is pregnant, and now has nowhere to live with her surviving children. I never met Mohammed, but my colleague in Gaza tells me he was a very kind, giving person. When Mohammed died, he was trying to help his neighbours, whose house had just been bombed. The last time my colleague saw him, Mohammed brought bread for his family. Nobody has anything in Gaza right now, and Mohammed shared his bread. Such a small, but poignant act of human kindness, in the midst of such chaos. And now Mohammed, and his baby son, are dead.

To anyone and everyone working to make the world a better place, please keep doing what you're doing. Anything. It's the only thing that keeps us human.

Press release

Worker for CARE's food distribution project killed in Gaza
CARE condemns the killing of civilians

Gaza, Occupied Palestinian Territories (Jan. 7, 2009) – CARE International is mourning the loss of a worker for CARE's food distribution project in Gaza, who was killed Monday in an aerial bombing. Mohammed Ibrahim Samouni, a father of six, was killed and his son was critically injured.

"Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Borders are closed and there is nowhere safe for civilians to flee. This is further evidence that any attack, even a targeted one, will result in civilian casualties," said Martha Myers, CARE's Country Director in West Bank and Gaza. "Mohammed was dedicated to providing aid to Palestinians, who are becoming more and more desperate as each day of attacks go by."

"Our sincere condolences go out to Mohammed's family. We hope that his son will recover from his injuries, but no child will ever fully recover from the loss of his father. This is further evidence of the terrible toll Palestinian families are paying for this war."

Samouni worked at one of the packing stations managed by CARE's partner, General Union of Palestinian Peasants, on CARE's Gaza Fresh Food Project, funded by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO). The project delivers fresh fruit and vegetables to 60,000 people, hospitals and orphanages a week. Since the attacks started Dec. 27, CARE has only been able to deliver food twice. The people who normally receive distributions from CARE have no other source of fresh food. Farmers who provide the produce cannot tend their fields for fear of attack, and the bombs have destroyed farmland. Sewage mains have been damaged, causing raw sewage to contaminate crops, posing a further health risk for Palestinians.

"People are running out of food," said Myers. "Food distributions cannot continue because of the bombings. And the very people who are trying to deliver aid – paramedics, and now a worker for CARE's distribution project – are being killed. The killing of civilians is unacceptable. CARE calls for an immediate, permanent ceasefire, from all parties. For the sake of the families of Israel and Palestine, this war cannot continue."

About CARE: CARE is one of the world's largest humanitarian aid agencies, providing assistance in nearly 70 countries. CARE has been working in Israel, West Bank and Gaza since 1948, implementing programs in food security, health and water, support for civil society groups, and distributions of fresh food. Since the Israeli attacks started Dec. 27, CARE has distributed fresh food, medical supplies, heaters, blankets and plastic sheeting to hospitals, families and feeding centres in Gaza.

Media contacts:
Juliette Seibold (in Jerusalem), +972.547797730,
Melanie Brooks (in Geneva), +41.795903047, brooks@careinternational.o

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This is the story of one death. Have been 760 dead in Gaza this past two weeks. Aproxiamtely 50% are civilians.


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