Over 11,000 Palestinians were injured during the crisis and some specialist rehabilitation facilities in Gaza were damaged or destroyed. Handicap International teams continue to provide rehabilitation and other essential services to the most vulnerable people. 15 mobile teams have been deployed into communities across Gaza, reaching those forced to leave their homes and seek shelter during the crisis. These teams include physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and nurses.
These teams are crucial because hospitals have been are so overwhelmed, they have had to discharge patients back to their homes or shelters, even with complex injuries (such as amputations and spinal cord injuries) which still require significant care.
By mid-August our team had identified over 1,100 people in need of support. Injured and disabled people requiring care had been assessed by our staff and we have provided rehabilitation sessions and referred people to medical facilities.
Handicap International has provided vital medical equipment to Al Shifa hospital since mid-July and will continue to distribute mobility aids such as crutches and wheelchairs to those in need. Our teams across Gaza also include social workers and psychologists who deliver support sessions. These sessions are vital, particularly for children and adults that have been traumatised.
© Till Mayer/Handicap International
Handicap International has been present in the Palestinian Territories since 1996. The organisation has implemented several projects, including providing technical support to referral centres for people with disabilities. Our team is present in the Gaza Strip and supports activities to meet the needs of people with disabilities and improve their daily life (rehabilitation services, making buildings more accessible). These actions are performed in partnership with local Palestinian associations.
In 2009, the activities of the Gaza programme were suspended for several weeks during fighting, although our staff continued to perform outreach missions (assessments, etc). Following the ceasefire at the end of January 2009, the distribution of kits followed by the setting up of 'disability and vulnerable' focal points enabled us to provide a response to the people most in need of support. In 2010, we continued our activities, treating the complex situation in Gaza as an emergency, while taking a long-term approach. Since 2011, our key area of action has been rehabilitation. As of July 2014, we are responding to the current crisis in Gaza.
Key Facts - Palestinian territories
• Population: 4.4 million
• Household Consumption: not available
• Life Expectancy: 74 years
• Human Development: 114th out of 187
Source: UNDP HDR 2011
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Rehabilitation in Gaza
Assisting people in need of prosthetic and orthotic devices by producing these devices and reinforcing the capacities of technicians in the Artificial Limbs and Polio Centre.
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Support for people with disabilities in Gaza
Improving the quality of life of people with disabilities in the Gaza Strip, by supplying and adapting rehabilitation aids, building the capacities of rehabilitation centres, and providing professional training for rehabilitation staff.
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Improving access to rehabilitation services in the West Bank
Providing professional training for rehabilitation staff and social workers in the West Bank, developing systems for renting mobility aids, and putting in place accessible transport systems for people with disabilities.