LONDON: A British Muslim charity has ramped up its humanitarian work in Palestine, crediting the generosity of communities of all faiths in supporting their emergency humanitarian response to last month’s fighting in Gaza.
Penny Appeal has worked in Gaza, Jerusalem and the West Bank for close to 10 years, and maintains a range of humanitarian projects alongside partner organizations on the ground.
Following May’s flare-up in violence — which claimed over 250 Palestinian lives, including 66 children — Penny Appeal said: “Once again the slow and painful process of rebuilding has begun.”
By providing cash support, distributed food packs, provisions for babies and women’s hygiene products, Penny Appeal has directly assisted over 77,000 people since last month’s fighting.
Its founder Adeem Younis told Arab News that the charity’s goal is to “break the cycle of poverty at every stage.”
From early-life interventions for mothers and children all the way to the end of life, Penny Appeal runs initiatives that aim to cut poverty and improve quality of life.
However, Younis said the latest round of Israeli attacks on Gaza meant that he and his team have had to focus on providing immediate humanitarian relief and support to victims and their families.
“Sadly, there has been an increase in the number of orphans we’re having to support,” he added, lamenting the cyclical nature of conflict in Gaza.
“We want to provide sustainable solutions that we can empower the community with, but our solutions are sometimes not effective because every year, every two years, it all gets destroyed again, or there’s an emergency situation that takes you back to square one,” he said.
In a statement issued to Arab News, the charity’s CEO Harris Iqbal said: “Sadly, once again we have had to pivot our efforts from long term sustainable projects to short term emergency response. We have been focusing in particular on medical treatment and supplies, working with a network of hospitals and medical organisations, as well as distributing food packs for families displaced by the bombing.”
But while Gazans continue to confront a familiar cycle of progress followed by setback, Younis said he and his team noticed that the external reaction was markedly different this time around.
“We’ve already raised over £500,000 ($705,850) for the most recent emergency. Donations have come from not just Muslims but from all faiths, from all backgrounds. Even today we still have people calling on a daily basis,” he added.
“What we’ve seen is that the compassion and support from the wider community, not just Muslims, has been very, very different.”
He said not only do those donations assist with emergency response on the ground in Gaza and the West Bank, but they also make Palestinians — who are largely cut off from the outside world — realize that they have the support of countless people worldwide.
“The recipients tell us all the time that they’re very grateful for the support they receive. They can’t believe the support they receive. They can’t believe that people are thinking about them as well. It means a lot for them to receive the aid, to have that help,” Younis added.
“That gives them a sense that the world is listening … When they receive outside aid, they don’t just feel the aid but they feel the support — it keeps their spirits high.”