Buddhist Global Relief (BGR), a socially engaged Buddhist organization based in the United States, has announced that it will dedicate some US$50,000 in funding toward food aid for the inhabitants of Gaza. BGR was founded by the well-known American monk Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi and has food assistance projects as one of its primary activities.
Since the beginning of Israel’s military operations in Gaza, some 1.7 million people out of the 2.1 million people in the territory have been displaced. Food and water supplies have been severely limited, leading the United Nations (UN) to issue an urgent appeal for greater access earlier this month.
“People in Gaza risk dying of hunger just miles from trucks filled with food,” said head of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) Cindy McCain. She added, “We can keep famine at bay but only if we can deliver sufficient supplies and have safe access to everyone in need, wherever they are.” (United Nations)
Recent food aid was able to reach only around 8,000 people in need, according to the UN. Children in particular are at heightened risk of starvation and famine-linked disease.
“Children at high risk of dying from malnutrition and disease desperately need medical treatment, clean water and sanitation services, but the conditions on the ground do not allow us to safely reach children and families in need,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell. “Some of the material we desperately need to repair and increase water supply remain restricted from entering Gaza. The lives of children and their families are hanging in the balance. Every minute counts.” (United Nations)
Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote on Facebook:
Buddhist Global Relief has approved a $50,000 emergency donation to help the victims of the violence in Gaza. The grant has been divided equally between the World Food Program-USA, and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA). The World Food Program is using BGR funds to provide displaced people in Gaza with food parcels, wheat flour, fortified biscuits, hot meals, and complementary feeding for pregnant and breastfeeding women. UNRWA is using the funds to deliver food assistance, consisting of wheat flour and “Ready to Eat” food items. It is our fervent wish, as engaged Buddhists, that all the warring parties will lay down their weapons and work for peace.(Facebook)
BGR has recently offered food assistance to people in need in Cambodia, India, Cameroon, Mongolia, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, and other countries. In a blog post announcing the donation, David Braughton, vice-chair of Buddhist Global Relief, writes:
Israelis have one more thing in common with the Palestinian people living in Gaza: They both have suffered intense psychological trauma because of the horrific scenes of death and destruction, and the loss of loved ones, homes, and livelihoods. Many already suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues, which will take years, if not generations, to heal.
The Buddha teaches that compassion, like suffering, does not pick sides. He extends his compassion impartially to all, and he bids us to follow his example. In this instance and in all cases where hatred, greed, and delusion direct most persons’ responses, his followers are urged to do what they can to ease the hurt, feed the hungry, and care for the sick and injured, no matter who they are.(Buddhist Global Relief)
UN urges radical change to aid relief access in Gaza amid fresh famine fears (United Nations)
Helping the Hungry in Gaza (Buddhist Global Relief)
Bhikkhu Bodhi (Facebook)
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