During the summer of 2014, Gaza was gripped by conflict. The heavy bombing forced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to flee their homes. In total, more than 2,000 people were killed and 11,000 wounded, three quarters of whom were civilians.
© Tom Shelton/Handicap International
During the crisis in 2014, our teams provided support to disabled and injured people, distributing mobility aids and providing vital rehabilitation care and psychological support.
Since March 2015, we have also been working to prevent more people being killed or injured by explosive remnants of war. So far we have conducted 700 risk education sessions in communities and schools, reaching more than 5,000 adults and children.
We continue to work with local associations in Gaza and the West Bank to ensure highly vulnerable and isolated people with disabilities have better access to basic essential services, including physical rehabilitation and education. We particularly focus on providing physical and psychological support to children with cerebral palsy and multiple disabilities.
So far, the reconstruction effort in Gaza has barely begun, mostly because the blockade makes it very difficult to import materials. Our teams face the same supply problems as everyone else, even though the needs on the ground - particularly for the most vulnerable people - are huge. People with disabilities and those with injuries sustained during the war are still unable to live in dignity and autonomously.
© 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 Gaza 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. In 2014, we responded to the crisis in Gaza, providing emergency rehabilitation and aid for injured and disabled people.
We are also educating civilians in Gaza about the risks from unexploded weapons. A Handicap International report, Bombs Under The Rubble, is available at: http://bit.ly/BombsUnderTheRubble
Key Facts - Palestinian territories
• Population: 4.4 million
• Household Consumption: not available
• Life Expectancy: 73.2 years
• Human Development: 114th out of 187
Source: UNDP HDR 2012
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Reducing the risk from explosive remnants of war in Gaza
Goal: To make the reconstruction and demining process safer by reducing the risk from explosive remnants of war in debris
Beneficiaries: Debris collectors; Reconstruction professionals
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Supporting children with cerebral palsy
Goal: To ensure service providers working in the field of disability, parents/families and local multi-operator referral systems provide a satisfactory level of physical and psychological support to children with cerebral palsy and multiple disabilities.
Beneficiaries: Children with cerebral palsy and their families
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Improving access to essential services in Gaza and West Bank
Goal: To ensure highly vulnerable and isolated people with disabilities have better access to basic essential services, including rehabilitation and education.
Beneficiaries: Children with cerebral palsy and other disabilities, their families and communities; People with disabilities; Education staff; Rehabilitation professionals; Members of civil society organisations.
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Prompting action to foster the inclusion of isolated and disabled people
Goal: To involve multiple operators to ensure people with disabilities are included in initiatives conducted by local operators, including socio-economic activities.
Beneficiaries: People with disabilities; Rehabilitation centres.
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Advancing the rights and inclusion of people with disabilities and the marginalised in the West Bank and Gaza
Goal: To ensure the implementation of national disability laws and foster inclusive development in communities.
Beneficiaries: People with disabilities; Disabled people's organisations; Local and national authorities.
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Post Emergency operations to improve access to essential services for people with disabilities in Gaza
Goal: To help the most vulnerable people with disabilities access essential services in conjunction with our emergency response.
Beneficiaries: Disabled victims of the conflict.