A Catholic charity has announced tens of thousands of pounds in emergency aid for destitute Christians in the Holy Land afflicted by the ongoing war.
Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is supporting the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem with £165,000 (€190,000) in aid for impoverished Christian families in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
ACN’s UK office has contributed £45,000 (€52,000) to the total amount being provided.
The UK office’s grant will help in the West Bank and East Jerusalem – including refugees from Gaza – as despite the escalation of the conflict and an increasing need for humanitarian help, UK counter-terrorism sanctions make it impossible for ACN (UK) to transfer funds into Gaza.
Gaza is controlled by Hamas, which the UK government designated a terrorist organisation in 2019.
The aid includes medical support and help with basic living costs – such as food and accommodation – for people who lost their livelihoods after the outbreak of the war, according to correspondence between ACN and Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa of Jerusalem.
Cardinal Pizzaballa wrote in a letter to ACN: “The current emergency crisis, not only in Gaza but also in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and within the Vicariate for Migrants and Asylum Seekers communities, urgently needs financial support.
“This project will invest in improving the quality of lives by providing medical relief, basic supplies, food, life-saving medications, fuel, water and electricity supply and support for families in need.”
The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem’s Vicariate for Migrants and Sylum Seekers (VMAS) is providing assistance for those who were originally from Gaza but had been displaced before the war.
More than 100,000 Christians of at least eight different nationalities are receiving help via VMAS, and many of them had low-wage jobs around Gaza, which they have lost because of the war.
The majority of the Christian population in the West Bank and East Jerusalem work in the tourism sector and have no means of supporting themselves since most pilgrimages and holidays in the Holy Land have been cancelled.
Military raids have been carried out in the West Bank, adding to the suffering of the 37,000 Christians living there.
According to Palestinian authorities at least 186 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since the conflict began in Gaza.
Cardinal Pizzaballa wrote: “Let me take this opportunity of expressing my gratitude to Aid to the Church in Need for your ongoing collaboration with the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and your support for our local communities in the Holy Land.”