As violent bombings continue in Gaza, Humanity & Inclusion teams are providing psychological support, identifying injured civilians in need of rehabilitation, and preparing virus prevention for displaced people.
“The situation remains very tense,” says Laurent Palustran, Humanity & Inclusion Country Manager in Gaza. “The bombings continue, and our teams continue to work. We have identified more and more needs from various assessments.”
Over the past week, violence in Gaza has claimed more than 200 lives and injured more than 1,400 people, according to the United Nations. Immeasurable infrastructure damage has devastated hundreds of buildings and residences, leaving many of Gaza’s 2 million inhabitants with their homes damaged or destroyed. According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) reports, there are more than 48,000 internally displaced people within Gaza. Among them, Humanity & Inclusion has identified more than 250 in need of rehabilitation.
“People have been wounded,” Palustran explains. “These people have been operated on quickly, but there will be both short- and long-term consequences from their injuries, particularly for those who will be in situations of disability after what has happened.”
Humanity & Inclusion teams are already providing psychological support to those affected by the violence that has been raging for over a week. Staff will soon be able to provide lasting rehabilitation care in an effort to prevent lifelong disability.
“There are psychological traumas that will remain,” Palustran continues. “That’s why it is important to provide mental health support. The population is experiencing collective trauma.”
In response to the large number of internally displaced people, 58 UNWRA schools have opened as shelters for those who have lost their homes or been forced to leave. However, with the ongoing threat of the Covid-19 pandemic, and with no vaccine currently available to the population, the situation risks an increase in positive cases.
“What we’re seeing is that people come to seek shelter, but they don’t have the materials to protect themselves against Covid-19,” Palustran says. “We’re talking about nearly 50,000 people in the 50-something schools that have opened—that means nearly 1,000 people per school. People don’t wear masks and they are essentially on top of each other. There is a very high risk.”
To meet some of the basic hygiene needs of vulnerable civilians, Humanity & Inclusion is preparing to distribute infection prevention and control kits containing items such as soap, disinfectants, hand sanitizer, gloves, shampoo, laundry detergent, toilet paper and menstrual sanitation napkins, as well as preventative information regarding the virus.
Amidst recent international calls for ceasefire but without an end currently in sight, our teams recognize that even when the bombing stops, dangers to civilians will endure.
“It is certainly possible that some of the rockets that were launched have not yet exploded, therefore it may indeed be the case that we also have unexploded remnants of war,” Palustran explains.
This poses particular danger to children, who are often attracted to such curious objects without knowing what they are.
Humanity & Inclusion staff report being shocked by the violence they see and hear on a daily basis. On the night of May 17, bombings fell next to the Humanity & Inclusion offices and guesthouses. Luckily, staff members are safe and continue working from residences throughout Gaza to respond to the ongoing crisis.