About 1,300 Christian Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip, enduring three wars in five years along with their Muslim neighbours. Israel controls the land, sea, and air around Gaza, with one crossing into Egypt through Rafah controlled by Egypt and monitored by the European Union in coordination with Israel. The Near East Council of Churches (NECC) works in Gaza with both communities, focusing on providing education and health care to a population under blockade.

In Gaza City, the NECC operates apprenticeship programs for young men and women to develop skills such as fashion design and aluminium engineering. Yet even these programs are adversely affected by the blockade. For example, not all the materials needed for aluminium housing are allowed into Gaza.

The NECC also operates three primary health care clinics in Gaza, serving over 150,000 people. The clinic in Shijaia (built with contributions from Canadian churches and CIDA, among others) was destroyed in 2008 during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead and has since been rebuilt. At these clinics, patients receive primary health care, antenatal and postnatal care, malnutrition and anemia treatment, psychosocial support particularly for children, family planning services, and dermatological care. The latter was recently introduced due to the high prevalence of skin diseases as a result of the effects of war and the poor water quality in Gaza.

Through these programs, the NECC gives hope to a civilian population facing blockade, unemployment, poverty, and frequent wars.

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