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Arwa Damon on the situation in the Gaza Strip. “People here have been psychologically destroyed.”

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People here have been psychologically destroyed. Everything they knew as something real, love, life, laughter, all of that has been taken away from them. They have lost so much, homes, businesses, educational opportunities, family members, friends – said Arwa Damon, a former CNN correspondent and current director of the aid organization INARA, in an interview with TVN24 reporter Miłka Fijałkowska. – It is absolutely devastating – she admitted.

The war in the Gaza Strip broke out when Hamas terrorists attacked the south on October 7, 2023. Israelkilling nearly 1,200 people and abducting 251, of whom 116 are still detained.

In response to the attack, the Israeli army launched a military operation to eliminate Hamas. According to local medical authorities, more than 37,700 people have died in the Gaza Strip as a result of Israeli forces' retaliatory actions.

Arwa Damon, a long-time journalist for CNN and currently the director of the INARA aid organization operating in conflict zones, including Gaza, spoke about the tragic situation of the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip in an interview with TVN reporter Miłka Fijałkowska.

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“People here have been psychologically destroyed.”

Damon arrived in Gaza about 10 days ago. – I traveled around areas such as Khan Yunus, I went to Gaza City, I was also in the Jabaliya refugee camp. Now I know what the phrase “Gaza is dead” means, she said. As she explained, “it's about the sheer level of destruction we're seeing there.”

– If there is a building, it is partially destroyed, it is full of bullet holes, people are among the rubble. They do not even live there, they barely survive. The vast majority of this area looks like this – she described.

She added that the phrase “Gaza has perished” also means that “people here have been psychologically destroyed.” – Everything they knew as real, love, life, laughter, all of that was taken away from them. They lost so much – homes, businesses, educational opportunities, family members, friends – said the American. “It's absolutely devastating,” she said.

Children's nightmare in Gaza. “The level of trauma is enormous.”

As she said in a conversation with a TVN24 reporter, the children she meets in Gaza often don't want to talk about what they've been through. “They can barely communicate, they're in severe shock, they're traumatized, especially the children we see in hospitals,” Damon said.

She told about a visit to one of the hospitals, where she met a girl with a severe abdominal wound. – She didn't really communicate. Her aunt comforted her. Both her mother and father were dead, but this little girl didn't know that yet. Her aunt didn't have the heart to tell her, she reported.

– We meet children running barefoot in the streets, next to sewage, carrying containers of water that are bigger and heavier than them. We hear children speaking using words that no child should ever use. “Yes, dad is dead”, “they pulled me out from under the rubble”, “I saw my brother bleeding to death in my arms”, “I saw my sister lose her head because a bomb fell next to us”. These were the words of one of the ten-year-old boys who screams every night, waking up from a nightmare, remembering what happened – said the woman.

As she said, “the level of trauma is enormous, and the situation is even more difficult because this trauma is still happening.” – It is triggered every day, by everything that happens there – she noted.

According to Save the Children, there are currently 17,000 lonely children on the streets of Gaza. “Some of them are looked after by extended families, others are looking after themselves. We see children on the streets, sometimes selling bits and pieces, bits and pieces of nuts, or they manage to make something out of a piece of metal. When we ask where the parents are, they say: I don't know, somewhere in the north. It's a big challenge, it's a big problem,” Damon admitted.

“We see a lot of acts of warmth between these people”

She said that “Gazans are a very close-knit society, they care about each other.”

– We see a lot of acts of warmth between these people. At the same time, we are dealing with a huge, terrifying number of lonely children, but also a huge number of children who are still under the rubble. There is no system at the moment to deal with or start taking care of these children, to start taking them off the streets and providing them with some support, she said.

The TVN24 interviewee said that the activities of aid organizations in Gaza are currently very difficult. – No one can function at the level that is needed. If any aid arrives through Israeli crossings and reaches Gaza, receiving this aid is a very long, difficult and at the same time very painful process, she described. She added that thieves and gangs were also a problem.

Damon said that there is currently “nothing resembling life” in Gaza. “It's summer now, it's terribly hot, especially in the tents. There are flies everywhere,” she said. “The children have absolutely nothing to do, no way to spend their time. They spend the vast majority of their day waiting in lines for water or a hot meal,” she said.

In addition, there is “the constant fear of bombs and drones, the sound of which can be heard overhead all the time.” – They persecute the people living there. As if they were conveying the message: We can hit you, Damon said.

The entire interview of Miłka Fijałkowska with Arwa Damon TVN24


Main photo source: TVN24

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