Caritas Jerusalem suspends activities in Gaza and Israel but announces emergency plan

Israel A house is completely destroyed after being burned by Hamas militants during the attack at Kibbutz Be'eri, near the border with Gaza on Oct. 11, 2023, in Be'eri, Israel. | Credit: Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Alistair Dutton, secretary general of Caritas, said in an Oct. 9 Facebook post that he is “deeply concerned” about the ongoing war in Gaza and Israel and announced that the organization has been forced to “suspend its activities” for security reasons but “has prepared an emergency plan to offer assistance as soon as the situation allows. We pray for peace and urge both sides to uphold international humanitarian law.”

A statement from Caritas Jerusalem shared the same day by Dutton noted that in Gaza more than 123,000 people have been displaced due to the ongoing conflict, according to updated data from the United Nations. He also noted that “the situation is critical for civilians on both sides.”

Hamas Islamic terrorists have de facto declared war on Israel. They have killed hundreds of people and taken dozens hostage since launching a full-scale invasion against Israel last weekend. Israel has responded with a major offensive against the Gaza Strip.

The situation of Caritas staff

Caritas Jerusalem, which serves the needs of people in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Jerusalem, reported that some of its staff are among those displaced. Consequently, there was no alternative but to suspend its activities.

“One family sought refuge at Holy Family Church in Gaza, another found shelter in a UNRWA [U.N. Palestine Refugee Agency] school, but unfortunately their home was completely destroyed. In addition, another family moved in with a relative whose house was also completely demolished,” Caritas Jerusalem explained.

In the midst of this context, the charitable agency announced the launch of the Gaza Staff Support System, called “Together Putting Love into Action,” an initiative that seeks to provide assistance to colleagues based in Gaza “who are grappling with extremely challenging and complex circumstances.”

“The primary aim is to foster a strong sense of unity and emotional support within Caritas Jerusalem, recognizing that the forthcoming nights in Gaza will be especially demanding,” the statement said.

Currently, staff at headquarters in Jerusalem and the West Bank are working from home to be with their families and offering them the necessary support.

The statement explained that “all educational institutions and recreational facilities in Jerusalem are closed, along with the closure of West Bank checkpoints.”

“For safety reasons, all Caritas Jerusalem operations in the field have been suspended. Our immediate focus is on the well-being of our staff. We ask for your prayers for peace and safety, and invite you to stand with us in our appeal for a just and enduring peace in the Holy Land,” the statement concluded.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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