Humanitarian Aid in the Middle East

Johanniter International Assistance demands access to the region for humanitarian aid measures and the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure.

Johanniter welcomes the fact that the first aid measures to Gaza via Egypt are in the planning stage. At the same time, our German member urgently calls for an expansion of humanitarian aid to ensure the survival of the 2.2 million people in Gaza. “In addition to opening the border crossings for aid shipments, the protection of the civilian population must also be a top priority,” says Susanne Wesemann, head of Johanniter International Assistance. “According to international humanitarian law, schools, hospitals, and relief goods warehouses and transports must not be attacked. This is essential for us.”

Public life in Gaza has come to a standstill since the shelling. “We hear from the people of Gaza that they don’t know what to do. Social media channels and news are blocked, so they have no information. Therefore, they stay where they are or seek shelter near hospitals that are perceived to be safe,” reports Céline Carré, Johanniter Head of Mission in the Middle East.

Eye Hospital has sustained collateral damage.

The Most Venerable Order of St John Eye Hospital in Gaza sustained collateral damage as a result of hostilities in the neighbourhood and it is no longer functional. The St John Eye Hospital maintains eye clinics in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza. In the Gaza Hospital alone, eye specialists treat 45,000 people with eye diseases annually.

Relief efforts planned

Johanniter is in daily contact with all staff and partners in the region and is continuously assessing the situation. The Most Venerable Order of St John plans to carry out an assessment of the extent of the damage to its facilities and carry out any restoration or repair as needed before resuming its work.  However, immediately after any cessation of fire, it is expected that St John Eye Hospital staff response will focus on Outreach Services to resume medically necessary care for patients, for example, to prevent irreversible blindness.

Internally displaced persons in Lebanon

Johanniter and its partner organisations in Lebanon are also preparing for a possible increase in the number of internally displaced persons. According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), some 12,000 people have already fled to other regions of Lebanon due to the current fighting in the border region. “Our partner NABAA has started to provide first aid to displaced persons in southern Lebanon,” says Roy Joude, Johanniter programme coordinator in Lebanon. “As a result, 600 hot meals, a hundred blankets, and mattresses have already been distributed.” Johanniter will support the provision of relief supplies to the displaced.