Abu Dhabi: In their efforts to respond to the current humanitarian crisis in Gaza, humanitarian aid agency Care has launched a global fundraising campaign worth $17.4 million (Dh62.4 million) and is reaching out to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) for aid.

Care provides assistance in nearly 70 countries and has been working in the West Bank and Gaza since 1948 (except for the period from 1984 to 1994).

Dr Roger Hearn, regional director for Care International in the Middle East and Europe, arrived in the UAE to discuss the situation in Gaza and look for ways to engage other countries to help get Gaza back on track.

"We've seen some significant interest from Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Qatar and that's promising for us and [we] will continue to talk about the possibilities of providing financial support to Care. Nothing formal has been announced at this point yet," said Hearn, who returned from Gaza a few weeks ago.

"The population of Gaza was in bad shape before the assault, and now about a third of the population have no access to running water."

A high percentage of children are experiencing trauma, he said. "There's a high percentage of bed wetting, Every time a plane passes you find a child running towards their parents looking for a hideout."

In the last few months over 380,000 people have been assisted by Care through 18 dedicated staff members in Gaza with the support of community-based organisations and non-government organisations.

Regardless of the generous offers Care has received lately, Care's hands are tied by Israel, added Hearn. "Israel has designed a list of 11 items that are allowed to enter Gaza, which include basic food stuff, wheat and oil. Last week we tried to bring in some pasta and it was rejected. Cement and steel are also not allowed."

Gaza, Hearn said, is a "huge prison where people don't have human rights or an option to flee to another place."

Billions of dollars are needed to rebuild Gaza, added Hearn. "At the moment there's a plan to reconstruct Gaza which will be discussed in a meeting at Sharm Al Shaikh next week. But till there's [a] long-term peace process, people in Gaza will remain imprisoned in their own country; its about the worst thing I've ever seen in my life," concluded Hearn.