Interpal provides humanitarian aid to people in desperate need; no more, no less

August 23, 2019 10:38

Ibrahim Hewitt is the Chair of the Trustees of Interpal. The Jewish Chronicle has agreed to publish this article following the resolution of a defamation complaint by Interpal’s Trustees

The UN estimates that Gaza will be “unliveable” by 2020, which is a mere six months from now. Some argue, however, that this is already the case. Over 97% of water in Gaza is unfit for consumption (UNOCHA) and 80% of families must rely on humanitarian assistance simply to survive. The blockade of the coastal territory and lack of access to basic essentials has also led to a health crisis and a collapsed economy with little to no hope for progress. Life is equally miserable for the millions of Palestinians in the West Bank and refugee camps in neighbouring countries with severe restrictions on movement, employment and little access to daily necessities. 

Ever since it was established in 1994, British charity Interpal has worked to provide Palestinians access to their basic needs and rights as human beings, including education, water and sanitation, medical aid and developmental assistance, in addition to emergency relief, one-to-one child sponsorship and seasonal support. Irrespective of age, gender, political affiliation or any other defining factor, Interpal has helped to alleviate the suffering of millions of individuals over the years. The charity provides humanitarian aid to people in desperate need; no more, no less.

The ongoing conflict sees infrastructure destroyed and the population sinking further into poverty, making the crisis increasingly worse year by year. This has a serious effect on daily life, as Nesma, a young woman from the Gaza Strip explains:

“I used to memorise everything. I started with the details of my home, then all the roads surrounding it. Blind from birth, I’m only able to see the shadows of things, so memorising the space outside helps me to move freely and independently.

In 2014, the war took away our neighbourhood, and that’s when everything I’d memorised disappeared. The routes I once perfected now lead me to nowhere, and I know that I will have to memorise it all again one day. I am going to wait a while before I do though, in case it disappears again.

The war also damaged my home, which is where I live with my five brothers, my five sisters, my grandmother, my sister-in-law, her three children and my parents. A very big family, I know!”

Despite these circumstances, families remain resolute and continue to strive despite the challenges. After receiving support from Interpal, Nesma is now one of the 42% of Palestinians in Gaza fortunate enough to have a job:

“My mother calls me the biggest grace of her life, but I know she says that to all her children. My dad is my best friend, who has helped me endlessly throughout my life. That’s why I give them everything I earn. We have used my earnings to try to restore what we could in our home.

I am the only one working in my family, and being able to help in this way is probably the biggest achievement of my life. I am proud of gaining such a good education, too, because it is through my education that I can see.”

Despite the nobility of these efforts that are rooted in morality and humanitarianism, Interpal has come under attack for its work by those who seek to politicise, and subsequently prevent, humanitarian aid reaching Palestinians in need.

Interpal has repeatedly proven its ability to act as a reliable and effective humanitarian operator and its work is highly respected both within the sector and on the ground. British MPs from all three main parties have visited Interpal-supported projects in Palestine and refugee camps in neighbouring countries and lauded its excellent work in the field.

We are aware of attempts to delegitimise and discredit our work, but we maintain unwaveringly that the people behind them are misguided; Interpal is strictly apolitical and humanitarian in our approach. In the 25 years since it was formed, we can look back on Interpal’s bittersweet journey to date, which has seen tremendous success and many challenges along the way. We have published a book chronicling the journey so far and dispelling false claims officially and, we hope, once and for all by providing much needed context to allegations made against us.

Looking ahead, we seek to continue to facilitate access to basic human rights such as clean water, education and healthcare and provide hope though employment and training opportunities whilst also alleviating suffering with more immediate humanitarian support. As we have done for 25 years, we will also continue to stand up to scrutiny and uphold the highest standards of accountability and transparency in all that we do.

The writer is the chair of trustees of British charity Interpal.

August 23, 2019 10:38

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