Faced with an ongoing crisis with Israel and a long-standing blockade in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian people, including people with disabilities, get by as best they can.
The situation in which HI intervenes in Palestine is unique and particularly complex. The living conditions in the occupied Palestinian territories remain very tense and Palestinians living in the Gaza strip and the West Bank are particularly vulnerable. The already precarious socio-economic situation has deteriorated since the summer 2014 Israeli Offensive, “Protective Edge”. Lack of employment opportunities have driven the unemployment rate to over 38%, further exacerbated by strict restrictions of movement of goods and people. With service sectors and non-governmental organisations resources stretched thin, Palestinians are struggling to meet their basic needs, especially persons with disabilities who are often overlooked and lack proper representation in development and relief efforts.
In the West Bank, a resurgence of violence since October 2015 has led to further isolation of the most vulnerable segments of society with increasing difficulties to access care and employment opportunities as well. As is the case in the Gaza Strip, lack of proper coordination between civil society organisations has led to the deepening of vulnerabilities of persons with disabilities.
Restrictions on the movement of Palestinians are affecting people with disabilities particularly badly, as they find it extremely difficult to get around and access the services they need. The hilly nature of the country, particularly the West Bank, together with the lack of public and accessible transport, further exacerbates these difficulties.
People with disabilities have to contend with discrimination at every level of society, in particular in the areas of education and employment. This situation is especially problematic for women with disabilities and the mothers of children with disabilities.
Number of HI staff members: 39
Date the programme opened: 1996