February 16, 2023
Palestine: Human rights violations continue rise
Palestine and the Gaza Strip face a complex humanitarian crisis. In Gaza, of the 1.9 million people who live there, 1.3 million are refugees. The ground, air and sea blockade imposed by Israel in 2007, has led to a permanent shortage of medicine, food, and equipment. Nearly a third of the population lives in extreme poverty. A mental health crisis is further unfolding as violence escalates. These alarming figures leave no doubt about the need for medical aid in Palestine .
Gaza is also significantly lacking adequate health infrastructure such as health centers, emergency centers and ambulances. Doctors of the World is working in the Gaza Strip to support healthcare facilities prepare for emergency situations by providing emergency training to medical staff and to strengthen the local health infrastructure.
Walls and borders have been built around Palestinian communities, hindering their ability to go to work, see family, and move around freely. Violence and oppression has continued to increase over the last few years. In May 2021 the war on Gaza, which lasted for 11 days, killed 260 Palestinians, including 1 of the 2 psychiatrists in Gaza, and injured thousands more. It marked the fourth round of intense Israeli violence on Gaza since 2008. The World Bank found that 70% of Palestinians in Gaza and 57% of Palestinians in the West Bank reported symptoms consistent with Post-Traumatic Syndrome Disorder (PTSD).
2022 saw the highest level of settler violence recorded since UN OCHA started monitoring in 2006. Overall, 849 incidents of settler attacks were recorded in 2022 that included extensive damage to Palestinian property.
Occupied Palestinian territory is a milieu where there is an utter lack of political hope. With the trauma that comes from occupation, including the violence inflicted by settlers and the Israeli Army, DotW has focused on providing psychosocial support to impacted Palestinians. Depression, PTSD, anxiety, stress and many other mental health issues run rampant due to the continuous exposure of violence Palestinians experience.
Since 1999, Doctors of the World has been providing aid in Palestine, starting with mental health and psychosocial support programs in the West Bank. Currently, its operations are widespread. DoTW also operates in the Gaza Strip to prepare healthcare facilities for emergency situations.
Thanks to our partnership with the Palestinian NGOs “Association for Culture and Free Thought” (CFTA) and “Al Ataa”, we are able to provide Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) to the affected population. This work has already made it possible to respond to numerous cases of psychosocial disorders over the past 6 years, as well as several cases of gender-based violence.
In the Nablus region and in the northern Jordan Valley, DoTW works to provide psychosocial support to victims of violence by settlers and the Israeli armed forces. The medical staff is trained in the detection of psychosocial disorders, in order to facilitate referral to the appropriate health structures. This referral system for mental health disorders DoTW developed with the MoH has been adopted as an official national tool.
In partnership with the CFTA, we work in women’s centers and health centers to improve the access to and quality of family planning services. In 2021, we provided 1,742 people with sexual and reproductive health consultations.