A humanitarian information service established in Gaza by Internews has been prompting action on issues of concern expressed by Gaza residents.
In response to a call by Ahmad Najjar from the town of Khuzaa to the Jossor Ma’Gaza Jossor Ma’Gaza (Bridges with Gaza) radio program, hospitals agreed to provide home to home service. “My wife is gravely injured, I have three more injured at home and the Ministry only pays attention to severe cases,” he said. “We are grateful and thankful to your radio program, as you are the only platform through which we can raise our voices.”
After a program focused on small businesses, in which several individuals said they might have to declare bankruptcy because they could not make business loan and mortgage payments, the General Manager of PADICO, Palestine’s largest holding company, began a discussion with the Palestinian Monetary Authority that resulted in an agreement by financial institutions to defer or modify loans.
“I couldn’t afford the loan payment to the bank and due to the constant electricity shortages had to move the machines to my place and will probably be forced to sell them to pay the loan,” said a business owner interviewed by reporter Nourhan El Madhoun.
Jossor Ma’Gaza produced two programs on the dangers of unexploded ordnance. The first emphasized the continuing physical danger, giving contact numbers of officials and the second program focused on the environmental hazards of ordnance, including the potential for water contamination with the coming of winter rains. In a related program, after learning that many residents were digging their own wells, information was provided on well-digging and water safety as well as on drinking water quality and the location of the various aquifers in Gaza.
Jossor Ma’Gaza was the first to announce the process of school registration for Gaza’s half-million children and after several university students told Jossor Ma’Gaza they could no longer afford to apply to university or resume college classes, universities in Gaza began looking at ways to relieve students of the tuition burden and to offer help to those who were homeless or lost family members.
Undocumented Palestinian refugees from Syrian and Libya approached the Jossor Ma’Gaza journalists in Gaza to explain that they had no access to humanitarian aid.
“We escaped the war in Syria to come to another war in Gaza,” said Abu Ahmad, a Palestinian-Syrian who fled with eight family members. “We have lived horrendous times, along with three other families that escaped Syria. We plea to our president to help us.”
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency was informed and the Palestinian Authority responded by issuing “zeroed” passports so that undocumented refugees could register for aid.
Jossor ma’Gaza, funded with a grant from the UK Department for International Development, is a 5-day a week, 50-minute radio broadcast aired on the 9-station Jossor regional radio network and televised nationally by Palestine TV Live. It is also available on cell phones, Facebook, and YouTube.
The broadcast is produced by two dozen journalists, the editorial and production staff in Ramallah and a dozen “street reporters” in Gaza. It also draws on a network of about 350 other Gaza and West Bank reporters connected on a secure network by a mobile phone application that is monitored by more than 3,000 additional journalists. Information to and from the aid community is provided by two liaisons who attend aid cluster meetings, coordinate messaging to and from the humanitarian community, and help the journalists connect with expert guests.
Officials and other media are noticing as well using information from the program to change planning and to respond to needs. Ali Shaath, a member of the Palestinian Authority Prime Minister’s committee on economic recovery in Gaza, said, “I have been following your program on a daily basis. I am taking my feedback and the numbers from the program because the program is giving the most accurate statistics and numbers, as well as direct feedback from the people who have been affected.”