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Violence in Gaza: HI demands protection for most vulnerable

Press release | London, 11th June 2018, 14:00 GMT

Ahmad, 15, was injured by a munition in his right leg. He is receiving rehabilitation care from HI teams.

Ahmad, 15, was injured by a munition in his right leg. He is receiving rehabilitation care from HI teams. | © Hardy Skills/HI

Gaza has just seen another day of demonstrations that has seen more than 500 people injured according to first estimates; HI is calling on all parties to the conflict to ensure the protection of civilians. HI is particularly concerned about the plight of the most vulnerable individuals and extremely worried by the number of lower limb injuries, which can lead to the onset of permanent disabilities. HI is renewing its call for a lifting of the blockade that penalizes everyone in Gaza, particularly people with injuries.
Since the demonstrations began last March on the border between Gaza and Israel, at least 128 people have been killed and more than 14,000 people injured, half of whom required hospitalisation.

While new demonstrations took place on Friday in Gaza with more than 500 wounded, HI is alarmed by the increasingly precarious situation experienced by the most vulnerable people - women, children, older people and people with disabilities - who are suffering the direct consequences of recurrent conflicts, travel restrictions and run-down medical facilities.

Problems accessing healthcare, limited access to medicines, drinking water and electricity – available for less than two hours a day - weigh more heavily on the most vulnerable families when the situation takes a turn for the worse.

The organisation is deeply concerned by the fate of thousands of people injured in clashes in recent weeks: “Restricted access to specialised services outside Gaza can lead to a deterioration in the health of many patients, with a high risk of decline or amputation in the weeks and months ahead," explains Bruno Leclercq, head of HI's operations in Palestine. In recent months, out of 40 requests for medical evacuation from Gaza, only a handful have been granted.

Present in Gaza since 1996, HI has mobilised its emergency teams in the field - more than 40 professionals - to help injured people discharged from hospital due to overcrowding. This network of rehabilitation teams trained in emergency response, which benefits from pre-positioned equipment in Gaza, will case manage more than 1,500 casualties in the coming months. According to the World Health Organisation, of the people injured, 3,778 [1] have live ammunition gunshot injuries, 1,191 are children, and 2,604 had lower limb injuries.

"The patients we visit at home have suffered massive tibial destruction, torn tissue and pulverised bone that are comparable to war injuries," says Bruno Leclercq. Recovery is long and requires months or years of surgery, physiotherapy and rehabilitation.

For years, Gaza's economy has been stifled by the blockade, and the Palestinian population is largely dependent on humanitarian aid. Three years ago, HI and a coalition of humanitarian organisations published a report on the incomplete reconstruction of Gaza and called on the international community to live up to its promises. The most vulnerable families are no longer able to cope with these additional medical, financial and psychological pressures.
With these new episodes of violence, HI is urging all parties and the international community to ensure the effective protection of civilians, medical staff and humanitarian workers. The organisation has also stressed that the parties are accountable for violations of international humanitarian law, and invites them to work towards a lasting political solution.

[1] WHO June 3rd 2018

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Marlene Sigonney, Humanity & Inclusion UK
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About Humanity & Inclusion
Co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Humanity & Inclusion (the new name of Handicap International) is a charity working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster. We work tirelessly alongside disabled and vulnerable people to help meet their basic needs, improve their living conditions and promote respect for their dignity and fundamental rights


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