Monday, February 2, 2009

What an Aid Worker Saw, Then and Now

By Mel Frykberg

"RAMALLAH, Feb 2 (IPS) - As fears rise of renewed violence in Gaza, Elena Qleibo, a French-Costa Rican aid worker from Oxfam, gives IPS a first-hand account of surviving Israel's three-week bombardment of Gaza.

Excerpts from her account....

Mayhem and confusion reigned as shocked Gazans realised they were coming under a sustained attack from warships off the coast and aerial bombardments from fighter jets circling the skies above. Later on as I tried to gather more information from people in my neighbourhood, many appeared in a state of incomprehension at the ferocity of the assault.

I am a cultural anthropologist, and first decided to make Gaza city my home in 2004 after living and working in the occupied Palestinian territories for a number of years. My first visit to Gaza was in 1987 during the first Palestinian uprising, or Intifadah.

During my years in Gaza I witnessed a lot of violence and upheaval during previous Israeli military attacks but never before had I seen devastation on this scale.......

Aid is slowly coming in but a lot more is needed. I feel very grim about the future. There are so many people, breadwinners in particular, who are amputees and seriously maimed. They will forever be aid-dependent and unable to live normal lives or support their families."

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