WCC: Gaza Aftermath Has Reached 'Catastrophic Proportions'

The legacy of the Gaza War has assumed "catastrophic proportions" leaders from the World Council of Churches (WCC) said more than a year after the conflict's end, with the group calling on those involved in the region to ensure that relief is able to reach the people it is designated for.

"The war in Gaza is now long over but its dire consequences have lingered for the one-and-a-half million Gazans who survived the onslaught," wrote Michel Nseir, Program Executive for the WCC's public witness program focused on the Middle East.

"Rehabilitation and reconstruction projects been far too limited to cope with the requirements," he added, referring to the lack of public infrastructure, food, fuel and safe drinking water accessible to victims of the conflict.

Nseir went on to say that churches must play an instrumental role in ensuring that the millions of dollars in pledged aid "reaches the suffering swiftly," despite the limited accessibility to the Gaza region.

"There needs to be concerted insistence on the assertion of accepted humanitarian practices and policy which guarantee that aid reaches those who need it urgently without impediments of any sort."

Nseir's comments were posted in the first online newsletter from the WCC's Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum, which launched its website this week.

Organizers call the forum a "platform that rallies churches together enabling them to coordinate their efforts and initiatives for a just peace in Palestine-Israel," with the aim of organization being to "bring an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine in accordance with UN resolutions, and demonstrate commitment for inter-religious action for peace and justice that serves all the peoples of the region."

Features on the website include news about the Gaza region, photo galleries, and a detailed look at various "calls to action" the WCC has been involved with, including the recent Kairos resolution drafted last December.

Authored by over a dozen Palestinian Christians from various churches and religious organizations, the document was an open plea for an end to Israeli occupation of the Palestine, saying that the situation has reached, "a dead end in the tragedy of the Palestinian people."

Former WCC General Secretary the Rev. Samuel Kobia applauded the document's eclectic authorship, saying that such a broad representation "allows the optimistic view that there will now be a greater response from churches worldwide to the situation in the Middle East."

"This cry of the Palestinian Christians and their church leaders provide the fresh basis and reference point in this renewed struggle for justice," Kobia said. "It is, therefore, inevitable, that the Kairos document is affirmed and its implications be actively pursued in the particular contexts that member churches of the WCC are located in."

He added: "In the final analysis, this response to the Kairos call is one that will provide the impetus to establishing love, trust, justice and peace."

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