Gaza one month on

Today marks 1 month since an unprecedented escalation began in the Middle East. The situation on the ground in Gaza remains extremely dangerous and civilians are facing a desperate struggle to survive amid relentless bombing and shortages of water, food, medicines, and safe shelter.

More than 10,000 people have been killed in Gaza, including more than 4,800 children, and more than 1.5 million have become displaced following an order to evacuate to the south of the Gaza Strip.

Tens of thousands of individuals have been injured and interruptions to communication continue to leave people unsure of whether their loved ones are safe. In Israel, some 1,400 people have been killed and more than 4,500 injured.

A ‘total blockade’ of Gaza imposed on 9 October intensified the already 16-year-old blockade of the enclave by cutting off access to any fresh supplies of water, food, medicines and fuel from outside Gaza for nearly 2 weeks Limited truck convoys of aid resumed on 21 October but are a small fraction of what is needed, and still exclude any fuel.

Despite the enormous loss of life, calls for a ceasefire have so far gone unheeded and there is no apparent end in sight to the violence.

This is the situation in Gaza 1 month on.


While some aid, including food, has more recently been allowed to enter Gaza, the amounts are nowhere near enough to meet the needs of communities. The amounts are also considerably less than what was coming into the enclave before the escalation.

The lack of fuel is affecting businesses across Gaza, including bakeries and grocery shops. People queue for hours for their chance to buy bread, exposing themselves to great danger. Many bakeries have been forced to close as they no longer have enough fuel to run their ovens, while at least 11 have been destroyed by bombs.

Gaza’s only functioning mill is now unable to grind wheat because of the lack of electricity, so only bakeries contracted by the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) and a small number outside of northern Gaza have been able to intermittently provide bread to shelters.

Islamic Relief distributes fresh vegetables purchased from farmers to shelters

For shop owners, food supplies are dwindling, and prices are rising. Even if food is available in warehouses, stores are struggling to restock because of the danger of travelling to pick up items amid intense bombing and the lack of fuel for their vehicles.

For families, the situation is desperate, and each week requires unending patience and increased ingenuity to find ways to get food and make it last as long as possible. The lack of electricity means frozen and refrigerated items have spoiled, while the lack of fuel greatly reduces cooking options.

With supplies of water extremely limited and tightly rationed, families must carefully consider what they can safely prepare and how much dishwashing it might involve. Each trip out to buy more food brings danger and many are skipping meals to make what food they have last longer.


At present, it seems there is no safe place to shelter in Gaza. Gaza City and northern areas have been pummelled by bombs, while southern areas have also been hit despite an Israeli evacuation order urging people to move south.

Refugee camps, hospitals and schools sheltering displaced people are among the buildings destroyed or badly damaged by bombing.

Shelters are hugely overcrowded, and there are concerns about potential outbreaks of disease following reports of cases of chicken pox, diarrhoea and respiratory infections. The mass movement of people to the south has placed additional strain on resources in the area. The situation is so severe that some people have returned to the north despite the danger.

Around 1.5 million people in Gaza are internally displaced.


Gaza has endured a water crisis for years but the current escalation has made the situation all the more desperate.

Most of Gaza’s water is contaminated with untreated sewage and salt water and without fuel, the enclave’s sole desalination plant cannot operate.

Gaza does not have a water grid that all buildings are connected to, rather buildings have water tanks which are filled regularly. Without electricity or fuel, water cannot be transported to these tanks, nor can it flow from the tanks into taps, showers and hoses for use.

Men and boys collect water in Gaza

Before the escalation, large water tankers distributed water to homes and other buildings, but bombing has made it too dangerous for some drivers to travel to even fill up their tankers, let alone service their normal routes. Even without the bombing, the lack of fuel would present a huge challenge for deliveries.

Many buildings in Gaza have wells, but without an electricity supply it is almost impossible to pump the water from these wells into the buildings’ storage tanks. While generators have long been used to cover patches in Gaza’s electricity supply, now people are struggling to find fuel to run the generators.

Even when people are able to draw water from a well, the water is usually not safe to drink.

The lack of water is not only about drinking water – without clean water hospitals cannot maintain hygiene and farmers cannot irrigate their crops or care for animals.

For Gaza’s Muslim-majority population, water also holds a spiritual significance and is needed to perform ritual cleaning before prayer.

7 water facilities across the Gaza Strip have sustained major damage, including 3 sewage pipelines and 2 reservoirs. Officials have warned of an imminent risk of sewage flooding in Gaza City.


Without fuel, maintaining any semblance of functioning services within Gaza is impossible.

People have been forced to adapt to frequent electricity supply issues for many years, so generators have become a commonplace back up when mains electricity is down.

Right now, however, there is no fuel to power these generators and families are completely without electricity, unless they have access to solar panels – some of which have also been damaged in military bombardments.

Without electricity, people cannot charge their phones to contact loved ones, keep up with the news or call for help.

Hospitals are performing surgeries with only the light from a phone, and patients reliant on equipment such as dialysis machines, ventilators and incubators for their survival are increasingly at risk of dying.

Vehicles – including ambulances, aid agency vehicles, and water tankers – are running low on petrol with little hope of filling up in the near future. This is making it harder for aid agencies such as Islamic Relief, as well as health workers and others, to do their life-saving work. It is also more difficult for people to find the things that they need – from bread to babies’ nappies – as they’re becoming limited to searching an area they can cover on foot.

Garbage trucks are facing the same issue, leaving trash accumulating on the streets and posing a health risk, while at least 25 sewage pumping stations in Gaza City have ceased operating.

Israel has refused to allow fuel into Gaza since the start of the escalation. It considers fuel to have a ‘dual use’, meaning it can be used for both civilian and military purposes, so its importation into Gaza is prohibited.


Even before the escalation, Gaza’s healthcare system was on the brink of collapse.

In the last month, 14 out of 35 hospitals with inpatient capacity have stopped functioning and more than 70% of all primary care facilities across Gaza have shut down due to damage or the lack of fuel.

There are an estimated 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza, with more than 180 giving birth every day, according to the World Health Organization. Some 15% of these women are likely to experience complications and need additional medical care.

Islamic Relief staff inspect medical supplies before distribution to healthcare facilities

Hospitals, health clinics and dozens of mobile health teams throughout the Gaza Strip are doing what they can to treat an increasing number of injured patients and displaced families, with some hospitals having erected tents within their compounds to cope with overcrowding.

However, they are operating well beyond capacity and staff are feeling the physical and mental toll of treating huge numbers of injured people.

Islamic Relief’s response

The situation in Gaza is extremely dangerous, and Islamic Relief’s team and partners on the ground are facing many of the same challenges as the communities we support. They have lost loved ones, endured displacement and are living under the constant threat of bombing.

Amid these unimaginably tough conditions, our staff and partners are continuing to provide a lifeline to people in need in Gaza whenever it is safe to do so.

Islamic Relief is supporting vulnerable and displaced families in the southern city of Khan Younis, in Rafah, near the border with Egypt, and in Gaza’s Middle Area.

At a shelter, Islamic Relief runs fun activities to help distract children from their difficulties

We’ve helped feed tens of thousands of people with food parcels, fresh vegetables, hot meals and vouchers to buy food. We are also providing water, hygiene kits and blankets to help people keep clean and warm.

In a number of shelters, we’ve provided respite for more than 4,500 children by staging games and fun events to distract them from their extremely stressful situation. We have also transferred money for the orphaned children who we support through our existing programmes in Gaza, to help them buy supplies or find shelter at this critical time.

We’ve supported healthcare facilities by providing almost 2.3 million medical items to treat the growing number of injured patients.

Immediate ceasefire

As well as helping vulnerable people on the ground, Islamic Relief is calling for international law to be upheld, and an immediate ceasefire which is required to end Israel’s practice of collective punishment against the entire population, which cannot be allowed to continue. We are also calling for a sustained, significant and unimpeded flow of aid across the border from Egypt, and for the ban on fuel deliveries to be lifted without delay.

We want international governments to:

• Call for an immediate ceasefire to prioritise the preservation of human life. We again urge all parties to uphold their commitments under international humanitarian and human rights law.

• Demand that Israel immediately ends its siege of Gaza and ensures that humanitarian aid safely reaches people in need in accordance with humanitarian principles. Israel must allow safe and unimpeded entry of water, food, and other humanitarian necessities into Gaza. Fuel must be allowed in so that hospitals, bakeries and water plants can operate. Israel must enable the distribution of critical aid, such as food, medicine, and fuel, as well as the restoration of power and internet connectivity in Gaza; and it must also ensure humanitarian and medical personnel can move around safely to do their vital work.

• Demand that all parties comply with international law and ensure that civilians are protected from harm. All parties must not target civilians or civilian infrastructure and must ensure that civilians have access to necessities such as water, food, and power.

• Increase aid to Gaza to respond to the urgent humanitarian needs and work with international partners to ensure that governments continue to fund humanitarian organisations responding to the crisis.

• Ensure the safety of humanitarian workers in accordance with International Humanitarian Law, enabling and safeguarding those delivering aid in Gaza.

Please help Islamic Relief to support and stand up for people in desperate need in Gaza. Donate to our Palestine Emergency Appeal now.

new director

Director of Network and Resource Development

Adnan joined Islamic Relief in 2004 as a regional fundraiser in the UK. He worked in multiple roles over 10 years at Islamic Relief UK, including setting up the first digital team and leading the growth of digital fundraising and engagement. Adnan also led numerous fundraising and marketing campaigns, which played a significant part in the growth of Islamic Relief UK.

Having moved to Islamic Relief Worldwide in 2014, Adnan has held different roles that have helped grow Islamic Relief’s global digital footprint into new geographic territories, supporting Islamic Relief members with their digital and marketing growth as well as developing new products and initiatives for the Islamic Relief family.

Adnan graduated in Industrial Design and Technology from Loughborough University. He has since completed an Advanced Diploma in Business Administration from Durham University and a Diploma in Digital Marketing from the Institute of Data and Marketing.

Nadeem Azhar

General Counsel

Nadeem joined Islamic Relief Worldwide in September 2022. He has worked in the charitable sector for over a decade.

He studied Modern History and Politics at Manchester University, and at the University of Law in London before qualifying as a solicitor in 2011.

Nadeem is an experienced corporate, commercial and governance lawyer, having worked with various faith-based and grant making charities as well those in health and education settings. He was a partner at a law firm in London before moving in-house where he focused on setting up and restructuring charities and social enterprises.

Most recently, Nadeem was Lead Counsel at Mind, a leading mental health charity, where he co-authored a new federation agreement, revamped legal processes, and played a major role in developing its strategic and fundraising partnerships.

Nadeem has been a charity trustee for the Seafarers Charity, as well as many grant-making bodies and theatre companies.

Adnan Hafiz

Director of Network and Resource Development

Adnan joined Islamic Relief in 2004 as a regional fundraiser in the UK. He worked in multiple roles over 10 years at Islamic Relief UK, including setting up the first digital team and leading the growth of digital fundraising and engagement. Adnan also led numerous fundraising and marketing campaigns, which played a significant part in the growth of Islamic Relief UK.

Having moved to Islamic Relief Worldwide in 2014, Adnan has held different roles that have helped grow Islamic Relief’s global digital footprint into new geographic territories, supporting Islamic Relief members with their digital and marketing growth as well as developing new products and initiatives for the Islamic Relief family.

Adnan graduated in Industrial Design and Technology from Loughborough University. He has since completed an Advanced Diploma in Business Administration from Durham University and a Diploma in Digital Marketing from the Institute of Data and Marketing.

Board of Directors
Javed Akhtar

Director of Finance

Javed Akhtar has more than a decade of experience at Islamic Relief, having worked in a similar role between 2003-2014. In that role he strove to implement wide-ranging financial and accounting processes which aided in the transparent nature in which Islamic Relief now operates.

Javed also has diverse experience across the private sector, having worked at American chemicals and pharmaceutical giant DuPont, shipping firm FedEX and technology consultancy company Accenture. In all his roles, he prioritises using the latest technologies to improve monitoring and reporting at every level. Javed’s commitment to embracing digital end-to-end technology, enhancing accountability to our stakeholders and promoting financial transparency is ensuring that we remain at the forefront of financial developments in the sector.

By training, Javed is a chartered accountant with a Master’s degree in NGO Management with Charity Accounting and Financial Management from Cass Business School.
Board of Directors
Affan Cheema  

Director of International Programmes

Affan Cheema is an experienced leader who has spent 25 years working in the international aid sector on poverty eradication in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. He has worked in fast onset emergencies, protracted crisis and development environments whilst working for Islamic Relief Worldwide and Care International. He is also a trustee of South West International Development Network (SWIDN).

Through his career Affan has held numerous roles including institutional fundraising, programme and grant management, and programme quality assurance.  Affan’s leadership has helped Islamic Relief Worldwide secure the highly coveted Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS), seen as the sector’s premier benchmark for operational excellence.

Affan completed his BA in Economics and Geography from University of London (School of Oriental and African Studies) and his MSc in Development Administration and Planning from the University of Bristol. He is PRINCE2 qualified, is a keen sportsman and recently co-edited a book entitled -Islam and International Development: Insights for working with Muslim Communities-.
Board of Directors
Dr Hossam Said

Managing Director, Humanitarian Academy for Development (HAD)

For nearly three decades Dr Hossam has provided the strategic vision to manage, lead and develop a range of international humanitarian interventions around the world.

At the start of his career, Dr Hossam served on the Board of Directors of the Egyptian Medical Syndicate, before moving to Islamic Relief Worldwide to manage the core global business activities as International Programmes Director.

During this time the organisation increased its global reach, gaining both domestic and international repute and credibility. Dr Hossam has also served on the Islamic Relief Worldwide Board of Management and Executive Committee for the past 15 years; sharing responsibility for strategic organisational development and the change management process, whilst forging strong relationships with many other charities.

Dr Hossam gained an MBA from Aston Business School in 2004 and graduated as a Medical Doctor from Cairo University in 1981.
Board of Directors
Martin Cottingham  

Director of External Relations and Advocacy

Martin Cottingham joined Islamic Relief in 2012 as IRUK Media Relations Manager, and was appointed Head of Communications in 2015 before taking up his current position as Director of External Relations and Advocacy for Islamic Relief Worldwide.

Martin has helped Islamic Relief to increase its mainstream media profile and expand its campaigning work, producing hard-hitting advocacy reports on floods in Pakistan (2011) famine in Somalia (2012) disaster risk reduction (2013) and aid to Afghanistan (2014). He has over 20 years’ experience working in media, communications and marketing roles for international development and environmental charities.

Martin graduated from the University of London with a degree in English and Drama (1982-85) then trained as a journalist with a postgraduate diploma at City University (1986-87). He has previously worked for Christian Aid as Editor of Christian Aid News and Media Relations Manager (1988-97) for Oxfam as Regional Campaigns Manager (1997-2000) and at the Soil Association as Marketing Director (2001-2006), as well as working for a wide range of organisations as a freelance writer, researcher and communications consultant.

Tufail Hussain

Director of Islamic Relief UK

Tufail Hussain has 17 years’ experience in the humanitarian and development sector, leading on marketing and fundraising campaigns for several organisations before joining Islamic Relief UK in 2016 as Deputy Director. Tufail was appointed Director of Islamic Relief UK in 2019 and in 2021 provided valuable leadership as interim CEO of Islamic Relief Worldwide.

Tufail is driven by a passion for empowering disadvantaged youth and mentors a number of young people. He also works to strengthen engagement between British Muslims and wider society. Under his leadership, Islamic Relief UK has significantly increased its income and developed successful partnerships with communities across the country. He has travelled around the world to raise awareness of major emergencies such as the Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan crises and the floods in Pakistan and Sudan.

A father to 5 daughters and a son, Tufail is also a sports enthusiast and passionate Liverpool FC supporter. Tufail has run the London Marathon twice, raising over £35,000 for humanitarian causes.

Before joining Islamic Relief he was CEO of Orphans in Need, where he oversaw a new strategy that increased income from £2 million to £9 million in 3 years and opened up new UK and international offices. Tufail is also a trustee of the Muslim Charities Forum and a Director of TIC International (Islamic Relief Worldwide’s clothes recycling and trading arm).
Waseem Ahmad

Chief Executive Officer

Waseem Ahmad joined the Islamic Relief family over 24 years ago, serving as Programme Officer in the Balochistan province of south-western Pakistan before becoming Head of Programmes in Pakistan. Waseem then moved to Oxfam and Tearfund before returning to Islamic Relief to establish our mission in Malawi. Later serving as Head of Programme Funding and Partnerships, Waseem led the response to major crises across the globe, including the East Africa drought, Pakistan earthquake and the Indian Ocean Tsunami.

Waseem then served for nearly 6 years as our Director of International Programmes, during which time the charity secured and retained the coveted Core Humanitarian Standard certification in recognition of the quality of our programming. He was appointed CEO of Islamic Relief in May 2021.

With a special interest in community mobilisation and infrastructure, Waseem received an MSc in Project Planning and Management from the University of Bradford, as well as an MSc in Economics from Arid Agriculture University in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

Waseem has also worked for Lepra Health in Action and is a member of the International Civil Society Centre’s Board of Trustees. The father-of-3 enjoys walking and playing football, and is a keen birdwatcher.