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Heightened tension in Gaza: preventing further casualties and disability risks

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Emergency | Health | Rehabilitation | Palestine | PUBLISHED ON March 27th 2019
An HI physiotherapist with a patient

An HI physiotherapist with a patient | © Oriane Van De Broeck / HI

Days before the anniversary of the Great March of Return on 30 March, HI is concerned about growing tension in Gaza in recent weeks. Further violence could lead to a surge in injuries, placing further pressure on already overwhelmed surgical and rehabilitation services. HI is calling on all parties to exercise restraint and avoid violence with potentially disastrous consequences for civilians. 

Soaring casualty numbers

Since March 2018, 266 people have been killed and some 30,000 have been injured in protests (WHO figures). Of these, more than 6,500 people were injured by live ammunition; 91% of them have limb injuries.

 

According to Bruno Leclercq, head of HI’s mission in Palestine:

"We treat a lot of people with leg injuries from explosive bullets, and their rehabilitation will take a long time - several years in some cases. These injuries lead to the onset of temporary and even permanent disabilities. This has serious social and professional consequences for these individuals, who can no longer work, and depend on their family and friends to move around, go out and so on. They need to learn to how to live their lives again, despite a loss of mobility. Many of them are depressed and we also need to support them psychologically. In one year, treatment rates have not dropped; all medical services in Gaza are overwhelmed by demand."

 

More than 2,000 people treated by HI 

Since April 2018, HI and its local partners have provided rehabilitation care to more than 2,000 people and their caregivers through 10 teams of physiotherapists, occupational therapists, nurses, psychologists and social workers. In all, more than 55 people work in the field on a daily basis. HI plans to beef up its teams in the coming weeks in order to expand its care and treatment of the injured and prepare for the needs of future casualties.

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HI is an independent and impartial aid organisation working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster. We work alongside people with disabilities and vulnerable populations, taking action and bearing witness in order to respond to their essential needs, improve their living conditions and promote respect for their dignity and fundamental rights.

HI is an independent and impartial aid organisation working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster. We work alongside people with disabilities and vulnerable populations, taking action and bearing witness in order to respond to their essential needs, improve their living conditions and promote respect for their dignity and fundamental rights.

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