Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 29 November 2014

Belfast vigil for children caught in Gaza conflict

A torchlit procession for peace will be held tonight in Belfast for the children living in the war-torn Holy Land.

The event, organised by Northern Ireland based charity Tuesday’s Child, which is dedicated to bringing hope to the most vulnerable of children, will start at Clonard Monastery at 6.45pm with people walking to City Hall in prayer and song for peace.

Organisers are appealing for people of all ages, from all Christian denominations and churches in Northern Ireland, to join in the vigil.

The charity, set up by Belfast woman Orla Sheehan in 2006, is involved in many projects throughout the world that help children, including Gaza.

It has been lending a helping hand to some of the many children suffering in Gaza since December 2007.

It currently funds a feeding programme for 1,050 children in 150 families and helps three primary schools in the Gaza strip.

‘We urge people to remember that all children are entitled to be treated with justice’

Following recent events in the region, Ms Sheehan said that she felt action inspired by prayer was needed.

She said the tragedy is that 53% of the 1.5m people living in Gaza are under 17 years old.

Speaking of her recent visit to the area, she said: “I have never witnessed a humanitarian crisis like Gaza.

“The strip was completely decimated then. Children were starving and malnourished and subject to many other violations of their human rights.

“ I was shocked by the things I saw. They were suffering enough. I shudder to think of how traumatised their little lives must be now.”

She added: “We urge people to remember that all children are entitled to be treated with justice regardless of the boundaries of land or cultural beliefs on which adults seem to place so much emphasis.

“We are calling on people from across the province to join us in prayer tonight for an end to the conflict between Israel and Palestine.”

Speaking to the charity from Gaza city, one of their contacts said: “I have lost my cousin, a niece and a nephew already. Many women and children are among the dead. It has never been this bad.

“Parents are leaving their homes to look for food for their children and not returning home. Flour bags lie in streets spilled and soaked in blood. Hospital services cannot cope.”

Another aid worker living in Beit Hanoun, a city on the north-east edge of the Gaza strip, told the charity: “The bombs fall relentlessly.

“There is no place safe now in Gaza.”

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