A Manchester-based charity has played a major role in repairing four universities in Gaza that were damaged during the 2014 conflict with Israel.
Human Appeal is a humanitarian aid charity working in 25 countries whose recent projects have included setting up a sewing factory for refugees in Lebanon and raising awareness of HIV transmission among barbers, beauticians and hairdressers in Pakistan. They also have a presence in Palestine, planting trees in the West Bank and providing urgent humanitarian assistance in Gaza.
The Islamic University of Gaza (IUG) and the University College of Applied Science (UCAS), therefore, appealed directly to them for help, and they decided to ask the Al Azhar and Al Aqsa universities to put in proposals as well.
The charity was able to provide donations worth £227,000 and put together a team of staff and volunteers for a recently completed three-month repair operation that will enhance the educational experience of more than 50,000 students.
The Al Azhar University suffered the most significant bomb damage during Israel's “Operation Protective Edge”, so Human Appeal worked on renovating the main campus building. Structural repairs were also carried out at UCAS.
Other institutions were affected more by financial pressures and lack of facilities.
At IUG, support was given to students who were unable to pay their fees and engineering labs were fitted out with laptops and upgraded IT facilities. Al Aqsa University was equipped with three ICT labs, complete with desktop computers, printers and liquid crystal display projectors.
“No region in the world is as highly politicised as Gaza,” commented Othman Moqbel, the chief executive of Human Appeal, “and we get distracted from the fact that, beyond the feuding regimes, there are people suffering and in great need of help.” His charity aimed to “offer a glimmer of hope to a people who, according to the United Nations, are living in an area of the world that could become uninhabitable by 2020”.