Gaza: one year after the conflict, civilians are still threated by explosive remnants of war
The lives of civilians in Gaza are still endangered by explosive remnants of war , one year after the outbreak of fighting between Israel and Palestinian on 7 July 2014. At least 4,500 explosive devices are still buried under the rubble of houses and infrastructure destroyed during the 50-day conflict. Handicap International immediately supplied aid to the most vulnerable individuals and, since March, it has organised risk education sessions on explosive remnants of war to prevent more people falling victims to these weapons.
An explosive weapons risk education session conducted by Handicap International in Gaza. | © Simon Elmont / Handicap International
The 50-day conflict was extremely violent, killing and maiming civilians, and displacing the people of Gaza to areas where they were less exposed to danger. After returning to their homes at the end of the conflict, they are now permanently exposed to the lethal threat from explosive remnants of war.
“Residents are still being killed and injured by explosive remnants left behind after the end of hostilities last summer. They are scattered across the city and make even the smallest journey and particularly construction work in the Gaza Strip very dangerous,” explains Guillaume Zerr, the head of Handicap International’s mission in the Palestinian Territories. “It has paralysed an entire population. It’s very important to educate people about the risk from explosive remnants of war and to teach them best practices which can save the lives of people living in Gaza.”
Handicap International has already conducted nearly 700 risk education sessions for more than 5,000 adults and children since March 2015. The organisation assesses damaged or destroyed buildings to determine the level or type of risks posed by the potential presence of explosive engines. If necessary, following the audit, civil engineering teams intervene to clear the rubble or demining teams are called to neutralise explosive remnants of war.
Over the six months following the conflict, Handicap International and its four local partners also organised 28,000 rehabilitation sessions for more than 4,800 people. Nearly 6,400 people have been directed towards services adapted to their needs which are dispensed by other organisations. Handicap International has also distributed 2,500 mobility aids (crutches and wheelchairs) and 4,000 non-food items, such as blankets and hygiene kits. Lastly, more than 2,000 people were given psychological support.