The conflict that tore through the Gaza Strip in summer 2014 not only caused extensive material damage, it left behind nearly 10,000 unexploded devices: rockets, missile warheads, and bombs. Since March 2015, Handicap International’s teams have been raising the awareness of people living in the worst-affected neighborhoods to prevent potentially deadly accidents. One such session, in Deir Al-Balah, led to the defusing of four unexploded devices.
Erika Trabucco is one of Handicap International’s reconstruction and building accessibility specialists. An architect by training, she worked from March 2015 to April 2016 in the Gaza Strip to to improve the accessibility of public buildings and to rebuild a hospital that specializes in the care and treatment of people with disabilities.
What did the Gaza Strip look like when you arrived?
Five years into a conflict that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, conditions confronting civilians in Syria continue to deteriorate, particularly for children and youth. Warring parties continue to violate UN Security Council resolutions and international humanitarian law by deliberately and wantonly attacking civilians and civilian infrastructure, including homes, markets, schools and hospitals leaving a deadly legacy of Unexploded Ordnance.
Intersecting Vulnerabilities among Syrian refugees
The impact of the ongoing crisis in Syria is overwhelming: Currently 12.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection. 3,980,623 Syrians have sought refuge in neighboring countries. Approximately 1 million individuals have been injured in this conflict, and after four years, there is still no end to the conflict in sight. Intersecting factors such as sex, age, disability, social and economic status contribute to and compound the effects of violence and discrimination.
Persons with disabilities often experience discrimination and exclusion, despite the adoption of an increasingly rights-based approach to humanitarian assistance. The past three decades have witnessed a growing awareness of disability issues and the emergence and spread of disabled people’s organisations.
The growing awareness must be accompanied by practical measures to identify and reduce the barriers faced by persons with disabilities in an emergency situation.
One year ago, the conflict that gripped Gaza during the summer of 2014 was just beginning. Odai Ali, 21, was at home helping on the family cattle farm, as he did most days.
Odai had a difficult childhood. As a baby, he was struck by a fever that left him unable to hear, and affected both his physical and intellectual development. Around the age of four, his condition slowly started to improve and he began to walk.
The lives of civilians in Gaza are still endangered by explosive remnants of war , one year after the outbreak of fighting between Israel and Palestinian armed groups. At least 4,500 explosive devices ,are still buried under the rubble of houses and infrastructure destroyed during the 50-day conflict. Handicap International immediately supplied aid to the most vulnerable individuals and, since March 2015, it has organised risk education sessions to prevent more people falling victim to these weapons.
Following the 2014 conflict in Gaza, countless unexploded bombs and other ordnance (UXO) lay scattered across neighborhoods and inside damaged buildings. Despite clearance efforts, many weapons still pollute populated areas and pose a serious threat to civilians, many of whom do not realize that the bombs can still explode. To prevent injuries and death, Handicap International teams travel throughout Gaza to educate residents—like Hamza’s Al-Sisawi family—about what to do when they find potentially dangerous objects in their midst.
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.
World not delivering on Gaza reconstruction promises, new report warns
Six months since donors pledged $3.5 billion towards Gaza's recovery, many people are worse off and not a single one of the 19,000 destroyed homes has been rebuilt. 100,000 people are still homeless and many are living in makeshift camps or schools.
(26 February 2015) – Six months have passed since a ceasefire on 26 August 2014 ended over seven weeks of fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip. As UN agencies and international NGOs operating in Gaza, we are alarmed by the limited progress in rebuilding the lives of those affected and tackling the root causes of the conflict.
The Israeli-imposed blockade continues, the political process, along with the economy, are paralyzed, and living conditions have worsened.
Gaza: Explosive Remnants Threaten Civilians
About 7,000 bombs, rockets, and other explosives remain in the Gaza Strip following the conflict between Israel and Hamas last summer. These unexploded weapons pose a serious threat to civilians, especially those involved in the clean-up effort. To help prevent accidents, Handicap International is implementing an awareness campaign to educate people about the risks posed by explosive remnants of war.
Humanitarian and human rights agencies urge governments to resettle 5% refugees from Syria by end 2015
Over 30 international organisations are calling on governments meeting in Geneva tomorrow to commit to offering sanctuary to at least 5 per cent of the most vulnerable refugees from Syria currently in neighbouring countries - 180,000 people - by the end of 2015.
44 Palestinian, Israeli, and international organizations are urgently calling on world leaders to stop Israeli plans to forcibly transfer thousands of Palestinian Bedouins out of their communities in the central part of the occupied West Bank and into a designated township.
London, 10th September 2014. The first of three teams of rehabilitation specialists, including physiotherapists, occupational therapists and nurses, has this week been deployed to Gaza to support people injured during the recent conflict and provide training to local rehabilitation staff.
We need your help to bring aid and care to the injured and disabled in Gaza. Now, thanks to a generous donor, any gift you make through August 31, will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $250,000.
Fifteen Handicap International teams are deployed throughout Gaza to seek out people with disabilities and injuries and meet their most pressing needs. Samah Abu Lamzy, Handicap International’s project manager in the Gaza Strip, explains the problems facing the families we meet in the field.
The three day ceasefire in Gaza allowed Handicap International and its partners to initiate essential relief operations, but these operations are now compromised by the resumption of the combat. At the end of the 72-hour truce, Samah Abu Lamzy, project manager for Handicap International in Gaza, describes the catastrophic humanitarian situation for the population and the impossibility for health and humanitarian workers to deliver the necessary aid in a satisfactory manner without a proper peace agreement.
In response to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Handicap International is donating equipment such as wheelchairs and crutches to Al-Shifa hospital, where many of the injured are being treated. The organization made its first donation on July 23, and plans to make more donations this week.
29th July, Gaza crisis
More than 1,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza over the last 20 days, three quarters of whom were civilians. The use of explosive weapons in heavily populated areas constitutes a serious violation of international humanitarian law. Handicap International’s team in Gaza, which witness the devastating effect of these strikes on civilians on a daily basis, is preparing to extend its humanitarian relief effort over the coming weeks.