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Healing the Wounds: Handicap International and partners’ Gaza Emergency Response Action Report, March 2015

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Gaza Strip population was exposed to a long term & acute military operation which lasted for 51 days during summer 2014. The whole population was affected in one way or another.

At least 1,473 Palestinian civilians were killed, including 501 children and 257 women. Many fatalities involved multiple family members, with at least 142 Palestinian families having three or more members killed in the same incident, for a total of 739 fatalities. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, over 11,100 Palestinians, including 3,374 children and 2,088 women, were injured.

This crisis has also resulted in displacing more than 500,000 persons who were forced to leave their homes searching for a secured place to protect themselves and their families from bombardment.

UNRWA has opened shelters at their schools to accommodate these internal displaced persons (IDPs). On the 26th of August an openended ceasefire was announced. IDPs started to return back homes if still not destructed; many those whose houses were totally destructed are still being hosted in shelters of UNRWA.

At the height of the conflict an estimated 500,000 people – twenty-eight percent of the population – were internally displaced in UNRWA schools designated as emergency shelters, government schools and informal shelters, and with host families.

Persons with disabilities (PwDs) are one of the most vulnerable groups in time of crisis, mostly marginalized and neglected to access emergency services. Handicap International3 supported by DFID, CDC, and RRA has launched an emergency response action in partnership with 4 disability service providers to meet the urgent needs of the most vulnerable groups affected by the crisis across Gaza Strip. Partners are: Baitona Society for community development in North Gaza, Palestine Avenir for Childhood Foundation in Gaza City; The National Society for Rehabilitation in Middle Area and in Khan Younis; and Society for Physically Handicapped People in Rafah.

The project duration was from August 2014 till end of February 2015; a total of 6,475 vulnerable persons affected by the war in Gaza benefitted from HI and partners’ emergency response action. HI donated 648 mobility assistive devices, NFI and therapeutic materials to the hospitals during the war time to be distributed to PwIs according to their needs. Immediately after the ceasefire announcement HI supported the partners in the five governorates to provide multidisciplinary rehabilitation services including: physiotherapy, occupational therapy, psychosocial support, nursing and dressing, referrals to other services, in addition to assistive devices and non-food items distribution. A total of 27,696 multidisciplinary rehabilitation sessions were provided, 2,578 mobility assistive devices and 3,975 NFI were distributed to the most vulnerable persons affected by the crisis.

Technical support and trainings were delivered to partners’ outreach teams by UKIETR team to ensure quality rehabilitation services in support to persons with disabilities and persons with injuries. 97.22% of the respondents reported their overall satisfaction with the services.