Gaza | Grappling with trauma, destroyed infrastructure, explosive remnants
Gaza continues to grapple with the impact of an 11-day conflict with Israel in May.
256 people in Gaza and 13 people in Israel were killed during the bombing from May 10-21. Almost 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza were injured. In the West Bank and Gaza, an estimated 1.3 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.
Amal, who works for Humanity & Inclusion in Gaza, shares her hopes and experiences for the humanitarian challenges to come:
Q: What is it like in Gaza today?
Life seems to have resumed its course: stores have reopened; people are returning to work. On the day that the ceasefire was announced, a lot of people went to the beach in Gaza to celebrate the end of the violence. It was a very impressive sight. Once the ceasefire was declared, I found myself crying and crying, and I couldn’t stop. That was the first time I had cried about the war, and actually as I am writing this, I want to cry again. In the following days, we were able to go out and see what had happened. We saw all of the destruction and the losses and started to check on people. It brought us back to the reality of the situation and the incredible horror that we will have to live through in the coming period. It may take years just to rebuild what has been destroyed and make up for what we have lost, knowing that the loss of lives cannot be compensated.
The Humanity & Inclusion teams have resumed work and activated the emergency response to help people. It has taken a lot of energy and enormous efforts because our mental and physical state is not well. Knowing that many people in our community are struggling and in need of support gave us the courage to collect ourselves and return to our duties providing support to the most vulnerable people.
Some people stayed under rubble for days after the end of the war. The idea of this was unbearable as we walked through these areas on our way to work and saw the rescuing teams making all efforts to bring them back to life.
Q: How are people doing?
Many people are still scarred. In the days following the announcement of the ceasefire, people were both psychologically and physically exhausted. It was 11 days of uninterrupted bombing; there was no break. More than 100,000 people had to flee, sometimes several times before finding a safe place. Just going out to buy food could put your life in danger. There is still a lot of anxiety among the population: how long will the peace last? What will become of us? Children are still the most affected, with insomnia and nightmares.
Recently, raids hit Gaza again, breaking the ceasefire. I was afraid that the war could restart in the morning. When I received the security communication that the office was open as there were no complication, I was relieved. I cannot bare to live through that experience again.
Q: What is the humanitarian situation like after the crisis?
The material damage is impressive. The bombing produced 40 impact craters on the roads. Nearly 500 buildings were damaged or destroyed. There were also over 1,000 impact craters in fields or vacant lots. We still experience power outages and the sewage system is damaged, which has a serious impact on access to clean water. Humanitarian needs are diverse. Among others, there is a great need for reconstruction, especially for housing.
Many areas are contaminated by explosive remnants because a percentage of bombs did not explode on impact and continue to pose a threat to people. Remnants of exploded bombs can also be dangerous hidden beneath the rubble. For this reason, it is important to conduct awareness campaigns among the population to inform them of these dangers.
Due to the current blockade, Gaza lacks everything, including medical goods and equipment. There are still nearly 9,000 people displaced and sheltered mainly in schools. They need everything: even food and fuel. Many businesses had to stop because goods are not able to enter Gaza, and many merchants are struggling to pay extra for the goods stored in ports. All of these additional financial obligations add to the burden of the poverty-stricken population.
Q: How has HI staff helped?
We have assisted in evacuating people with disabilities during the escalation, and we conducted risk education sessions soon after. We have been distributing vouchers for food assistance to 300 families and medical first aid kits to 500 families.
HI’s future emergency response
Humanity & inclusion is currently in discussion with donors regarding funding for possible future actions to assist people in Gaza including:
- Conduct risk education sessions for children so they can learn to recognize and avoid dangerous unexploded ordnances or explosive remnants.
- Organize recreational activities to improve the psychological well-being of approximately 2,000 children.
- Continue distributing non-food items—hygiene kits, menstrual products, kitchen essentials, diapers and assistive devices—for displaced families and families hosting displaced people.
- Contribute to repair and improvement of 100 partially damaged homes, giving priority to single mothers, elderly people and people with disabilities. Some homes will need to be adapted for people with disabilities or people who may develop permanent disabilities due to injuries sustained in recent violence.
- Coordinate with other humanitarian aid organizations and relevant actors to avoid duplication and ensure inclusive response.
Header Image: Two Humanity & Inclusion staff members on the mobile emergency team walk past a group of children after conflict in Gaza in 2018. Copyright: Hardy Skills/HI
Inline image: Portrait of Amal
Gaza | Reconstruction efforts underway following ceasefire
Four days after the announcement of a ceasefire in Gaza and Israel, Humanity & Inclusion teams are distributing assistive devices and hygiene kits to civilians in Gaza, and supporting reconstruction initiatives.
“At this time, it appears the ceasefire is being respected by both sides of the conflict,” says Laurent Palustran, Humanity & Inclusion’s country manager for the Palestinian territories.
After 11 days of violence resulted in 254 deaths and more than 2,600 injures reported by the United Nations, Humanity & Inclusion’s office officially reopened on Monday, May 24.
The 58 UNWRA schools that previously sheltered more than 77,000 internally displaced individuals are slowly emptying as people return home and reunite with family. However, many are still left without homes. Bombings destroyed 1,042 housing and commercial units and severely damaged nearly 800 other buildings.
“There is an enormous need for reconstruction right now,” Palustran says. “Humanity & Inclusion has experience in building homes and adapting them for people with disabilities, so we’re preparing to provide reconstruction support.”
Meeting basic needs
Teams continue to assess the needs of the affected population, identifying at least 1,045 people in need of materials or assistive devices such as walkers, wheelchairs, crutches, canes and adapted toilets. Humanity & Inclusion is already distributing those items.
Thousands have lost all personal belongings and essentials. Teams are distributing hygiene kits of basic needs such as soap, detergent and disinfectant, with plans to replenish other necessities.
Impact on schools, public infrastructure
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and damage to 54 schools, schools will remain closed for the rest of the academic year. Humanity & Inclusion is concerned by the gap in education, and will focus on providing accessible and inclusive education in the coming years for local children, including those with disabilities.
Damage to public infrastructure has left the populations with limited access to essentials such as electricity, water and sanitation. Priority repairs will continue to get these services up and running again, but many key power and water plans are operating at partial capacity.
“With the ceasefire in place, we can take the first steps towards healing,” Palustran says.
Image: Three members of Humanity & Inclusion's mobile team walk down a dirt road in Gaza in 2018. Copyright: Hardy Skills/HI
Gaza | ‘I don’t want to live through this again’
After eight days of bombings, a 2 a.m. ceasefire took hold in Gaza on May 21. Amal, who works for Humanity & Inclusion in Gaza, took time on Friday May 21, to share her hopes and experiences for the days to come.
Q: What is happening in Gaza right now?
A ceasefire was declared at 2 a.m. Since then, everybody is trying to understand what’s happening. There is no bombing and no more fear. People went to the streets to celebrate the end of the bombing. Everyone in Gaza is just trying to understand what happened and what to expect in the upcoming days.
Q: Have you been able to go outside since the ceasefire?
I’m not sure I am ready to see what’s happening outside yet. My brother went out and he said there are a lot of damages to the streets and the nearby houses. I’m not sure I can do that yet. I’m just not ready. This is not the first experience for us, and I know the feeling when you go outside, see the damage, and remember the people who were alive just a week ago.
My spirit it not ready yet to see all this damage and loss.
Many who needed to evacuate their houses are going back to see the damages in hopes of returning. We had to evacuate our house. My cousins lost their apartments, my sister and her husband, too. When you have to leave your house, and decide what are the most important things to take with you, knowing that this is may be the last time that you see your room, your things, your street, this is a horrible experience. I feel exactly like everyone who had to experience this.
Q: Now that the bombing has ended, what are the current needs?
We have to start over from scratch, starting by rebuilding our spirits through psychological support. I have three nieces. The older one is 11 years old, and last night she jumped from her bed and ran around the house during her sleep. The other one is 9 years old, and she is talking in her sleep about the bombing. The entire community are victims now.
People are injured and need to lead new lives with their injuries. We may have finished the war with death, but now we have our war with life after this.
All of us are tired and need support, but this feeling will help us to provide more support to people in more need in our community. This will give us strength to continue to support them.
Q: Can you explain the work you do with Humanity & Inclusion and its contributions to the current needs?
I work as an Information Management Officer. I started this job the beginning of this year. Before this, I was working in the inclusive education project. I deal with numbers and data, so through my job I can show the impact of this violence on our beneficiaries. By producing numbers and fact sheets and so on, I can present what happened and what the people need. Through my job, I can represent what the needs are and how we can help our beneficiaries.
Q: What are you expecting in the coming days?
I feel more hopeful this time. I feel some solidarity from people around the world. I hope that this ceasefire will stay, but it isn’t so clear what is going to happen. So, I hope that this will stay and that we’ll never have to this experience again.
I have lived through four official wars and more conflicts than I can count. I don’t want to live through this again.
I’m very hopeful that this will work out and we’ll find a way to live our lives and support people in need without having to think about this kind of devastation anymore.
Header Image: Two Humanity & Inclusion staff members on the mobile emergency team walk down a dirt road after conflict in Gaza in 2018. Copyright: Hardy Skills/HI
Inline image: Amal
Gaza | ‘I fear for my family, I know I will not be able to protect them'
On May 20, 2021, Reham Shaheen, a Humanity & Inclusion staff member, shared her experience living amid conflict in Gaza:
We live in Gaza, nearest to the border. There was constant bombing around my house, including rockets and attacks.
I live with my family. I have three kids, two boys and one girl, and my husband. It is really difficult. We are all afraid. I fear for myself, my family and my husband. I’m thinking of my mother, my brother, my sisters and all of my loved ones. I’m really scared that I might lose someone. On TV I see what’s happening in the city, where many children and women are killed inside their homes. They were safe inside their houses, and they couldn’t do anything. They couldn’t escape. I always think about this, it could happen to me. Nowhere in the Gaza strip is safe, so you can’t go or evacuate to a safer place, because the bombing would still be right behind you.
I’m always tense and worried and haven’t slept in four days. I worry that nearby houses are evacuating and they forgot to tell me. What would happen to us? I spend a lot of time looking out the windows to see if there are people in the streets, if people are leaving to go to other places. I also watch the movement of ambulances, especially at night. Each evening is a nightmare. I always fear for my family, because I know I will not be able to protect them.
Yesterday (May 19), was really horrible. The bombing surrounded our house and many needed to leave during the day to escape from bombing in the streets, but some thought they would not be affected by the strength of the rockets. They stayed in their homes and when the bombing happened, many were forced to leave at 2 a.m. to seek shelter and find safety. It was a really terrifying night.
A family in fear
I do my best to keep my family engaged during the day. We play together, we eat, and we pray. But sometimes I’m so afraid and I can’t even talk to anyone about it. We can’t leave our home. We can’t move around.
For my kids, the whole atmosphere around them is horrifying. They hear the bombing all the time, and it’s really loud because it’s so close to our house. One of my kids was sick for three days. He had a fever due to experiencing so much panic. My daughter is only 2 years old, so when she hears the bombings or sees the curtains move from the blast, she runs away and screams, “Bombing! Bombing!” They hang onto me all day to try and feel safe.
One of my kids is not showing much response, but one night he was shaking and screaming all night. So, all this is really difficult for them as children. We don’t know how they really feel, their emotions, and each one has their own way to experience it. They are afraid of everything around them. If they hear a door close, they get scared and run away. If they see something moving, they are afraid and think it’s more bombing.
Helping injured and displaced civilians
I try to forget my fears by being committed to my work and by responding to the needs of vulnerable people. I work as a Rehabilitation Task Force Coordinator, and have been working with Humanity & Inclusion for seven years. It is important to me to support people during emergencies. I joined Humanity & Inclusion during the war of 2014, to respond to the needs of the emergency. I see the impact of our intervention on the people, and the need for Humanity & Inclusion and partner services.
I can see that I contribute through the emergency response project that we are running now with our partners. We identify and screen the needs of internally displaced people that go to the shelters and the hosting communities, and I ensure that our teams properly identify and respond to the needs of people with disabilities and people who are vulnerable. I’m so proud to do this. There is a high need for multidisciplinary services like physical therapy and wound dressing sessions to cope with current injuries and prevent disability. There is also need for assistive devices. Usually the needs of injured people change after a few weeks or a month because there is either a deterioration or improvement in their condition, so there is need for assistive devices and rehabilitation support.
Conflict in Gaza
In 2014, the whole conflict lasted around 51 days. At the time, it was the longest escalation in the Gaza strip, and maybe it was the hardest experience. This is the 11th day of the current escalation, but the level of destruction by the 11th day is much higher when compared to the entire 51 days in 2014. The type of weaponry used by the two parties is more advanced. The number of civilians affected is higher than in 2014 compared with the duration. If you look at the statistics, you can see that most of the casualties are civilians. These people are not engaged in any military work.
It is really difficult and has also caused destruction not only for the people themselves—the injuries or the killing of people—but also caused the destruction of the buildings, the infrastructure, the economy, all the streets are destroyed, including the ones leading to the main emergency hospitals in the Gaza strip. In Gaza, the economic situation is really bad, so these are poor families. They have limited access to basic needs and there is a need for the essentials such as water, food, medication, and cash. The need for mental health and psychological services is really high.
There is daily loss of life and daily injuries, so this is the most difficult time to live.
Header Image: The view outside of Reham Shaheen's window in North Gaza after days of violent conflict. Copyright: Reham Shaheen/HI
Inline Image: Reham Shaheen at work Copyright: HI
Gaza | After ceasefire announcement, HI prepares to rehabilitate over 500
Ceasefire between Gaza and Israel enables local teams in Gaza to launch rehabilitation services for more than 500 people.
Twelve days after the most recent escalation of violence in Gaza, the parties involved have announced a ceasefire.
This long-awaited break comes after nearly eight days of constant bombings resulted in 242 lives lost between Gaza and Israel, including 67 children and 43 women. More than 1,700 people are injured.
“We’ve been waiting for a ceasefire,” says Laurent Palustran, Humanity & Inclusion’s country manager for the region. “We can now start responding to humanitarian needs with more ease and be able to intensify the distribution of a lot more aid than what we’ve done so far.”
According to a recent report by the UNWRA, approximately 91,000 people have been internally displaced, over 66,000 of whom have sought refuge in 58 UNWRA schools opened as emergency shelters. Humanity & Inclusion teams have conducted needs assessments of those displaced people to determine next steps.
“We’re starting to get clearer data thanks to these evaluations,” Palustran explains. “We have identified over 500 people in these shelters that have disabilities and are in need.”
Reham Shaheen, Humanity & Inclusion’s Rehabilitation Task Force Coordinator in Gaza, explains the needs of the vulnerable populations the organization serves in areas of conflict.
“Psychosocial support is one of the greatest needs,” Shaheen says. “Many will lose a limb or an organ and will have psychological needs afterwards. People really need mental health and counseling to cope with the current situation. Then there is great need for multidisciplinary rehabilitation services, like physical therapy and wound dressing sessions to prevent disabilities after injury.
“Usually the needs of injured people change after a few weeks. There is either deterioration or improvement in their condition, so there is dire need for assistive devices and rehabilitation support as well.”
Humanity & Inclusion is prepared to distribute mobility aids such as crutches, walkers and wheelchairs, along with Infection Prevention and Control kits to keep wounds clean and prevent infection that could lead to long-term ailments.
The Covid-19 pandemic has not let up in Gaza, with Johns Hopkins reporting a total of 304,532 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic, and 3,448 deaths between Gaza and the West Bank.
“This escalation occurred while we’re being hit with a second wave of Covid-19,” Shaheen explains. “We have two emergencies, so there is a need for hygiene kits. People need to have clean environments to be able to avoid illness, and in terms of injuries, to keep their wounds clean to avoid any infections.”
Image: A Humanity & Inclusion physical therapist assists an injured civilian in a rehabilitation session in Gaza in 2018. Copyright: Hardy Skills/HI
Gaza | More than 250 injured civilians need rehabilitation
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.
Image: An HI rehabilitation professional cares for a wounded civilian in Gaza in 2018. Copyright: Hardy Skills/HI
Gaza | ‘Absolutely necessary’ to provide assistance to vulnerable civilians
Violence in Gaza continues to reach extremes. Humanity & Inclusion teams are helping to evacuate vulnerable populations and are prepared to care for wounded civilians.
Ongoing bombings in Gaza have escalated, resulting in devastation for vulnerable civilians. Laurent Palustran, Humanity & Inclusion country manager on-site in Gaza, explains, “Over the last few days the bombings have increased in terms of violence. They are stronger and importantly they’re in areas with a lot of civilians.”
As of May 16, the United Nations has reported nearly 200 deaths, including more than 40 children between six months and 17 years old. In Israel, 10 people, including a 5-year-old boy and a soldier, have been killed, the AP reports.
As the death toll climbs, so does the number of wounded. More than 1,200 injured civilians are quickly filling local hospitals for urgent care, and will soon be discharged still in need of rehabilitation and psychological support. Humanity & Inclusion rehabilitation specialists are equipped to intervene in an effort to prevent prolonged disability for affected civilians by providing ongoing wound care and mobility aids such as crutches, wheelchairs and walkers.
Increased deterioration and damage to the local infrastructure has left Gaza’s more than 2 million inhabitants with limited access to food, water or basic hygiene supplies. Thousands have been forced to evacuate their residences entirely and seek shelter, primarily in schools.
“Older people, children and people with disabilities are met with great difficulty when they must evacuate, register at the shelter or access food and water,” Palustran says. “For a person with a disability or an older person, waiting in line for these goods can be particularly difficult. Humanity & Inclusion teams are taking action to assist such vulnerable populations with their evacuation and then bringing them to shelters.”
Humanity & Inclusion is also preparing for the distribution of hygiene kits and food vouchers.
Given the persistence and scale of ongoing bombings, Humanity & Inclusion has also expressed concerns about the risk that explosives can pose long after attacks, particularly in such a densely populated region. Dangerous shrapnel and dormant munitions leftover from warfare present a continual threat to civilians, most notably children. This may necessitate risk education action in the weeks or months following armed conflict.
“Vulnerable populations are the ones met with the most difficulty,” Palustran concludes. “It is therefore absolutely necessary to provide assistance for these people. They have already been in a chronic crisis situation for years and are still seeing the destruction of their surroundings today.”
Image: Humanity & Inclusion staff treats the wound of an injured woman in Gaza in 2020. Copyright: Ibrahem ElShatali/HI
Gaza | Teams identify immediate needs for intervention
In Gaza, the number of civilians injured or killed continues to rise. Nearly a hundred deaths and more than 480 injuries have been reported. Humanity & Inclusion teams are identifying the most pressing needs among the population, such as evacuation, shelter, and access to basic needs.
Humanity & Inclusion’s on-site teams, present in Gaza since 1996, confirm that three days into the escalation of violence, the situation remains critical. Constant bombings can be heard throughout the day.
“To prepare for effective intervention, we have begun to assess the most urgent needs of the affected civilians, most notably children and people with disabilities,” explains Laurent Palustran, Humanity & Inclusion’s country manager.
The area has seen damage to more than 2,000 housing units and total destruction of more than 500 homes, making evacuation and re-housing a priority for the most vulnerable people. Among those affected are members of Humanity & Inclusion own staff, who were urgently evacuated on Thursday to a safer area following explosions near their residences. In response, some schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) have opened their doors to temporarily house those in need. Yet the demand for safe shelter remains high.
Other pressing concerns identified include access to food, and basic hygiene, as damage to infrastructure worsens and the blockade continues. Humanity & Inclusion is equipped along with partner organizations to distribute food vouchers and hygiene kits as a first response. Staff is preparing to begin distribution of mobility aids such as crutches and wheelchairs.
Archive image: A Humanity & Inclusion team member helps a teenager injured by a cluster munition in Gaza in 2018. Copyright: Hardy Skills/HI
Gaza | Teams ready to aid the most vulnerable people
The resurgence of violence between Israelis and Palestinians since May 11, has already left dozens dead and many others injured, including at least nine children. Humanity & Inclusion’s teams, working in Gaza since 1996, are ready to deliver aid to the most vulnerable people, including those who are injured.
Within 24 hours of the latest outbreak of violence between Palestinians and Israelis, some 50 people were killed and many others injured, including nine children, between the two countries.
“Civilians are the main victims of these latest clashes,” explains Laurent Palustran, who manages Humanity & Inclusion’s actions in Gaza.
“We are particularly concerned about the most vulnerable people, including aging adults, people with disabilities, and isolated women. They find it difficult to move around and seek assistance, so they’re the first to be affected in crises and conflicts.
“Gaza is 1.86 miles wide and 26 miles long, and counts more than 2 million inhabitants. The population density is extremely high. This is why there are multiple civilian casualties as soon as a conflict and fighting break out. Airstrikes often also damage and destroy homes and infrastructure, including hospitals and schools, as well as roads, electricity grids, gas lines, and communication networks.”
Humanity & Inclusion is preparing to supply aid to the most vulnerable people through its teams and local partner organizations. Staff will also mobilize their pre-positioned humanitarian stocks, including hygiene kits and walking aids such as crutches and wheelchairs.
Gaza has been under blockade for a long time, and supplies are already extremely limited. The latest clashes could lead to a rapid deterioration of the situation. If the power plant is no longer supplied with fuel, there could be power shortages, and water could be in short supply. Food shortages are also a possibility.
If fighting continues, hospitals in Gaza risk an influx of injured people who will need urgent rehabilitation care after receiving emergency medical treatment. Humanity & Inclusion also fears that the situation facing the most vulnerable people will worsen unless they receive the humanitarian aid they need. It will also be necessary to provide support to people who have lost their homes as a result of bombing or who are unable to ensure their basic survival.
Image: A member of Humanity & Inclusion's mobile emergency team assists an injured man in Gaza in 2018. Copyright: Hardy Skills/HI
COVID-19 in Gaza | Lockdown disrupts injured dad's recovery
COVID-19 in Gaza means more isolation and despair for people with disabilities as aid and services for them have been suspended. This is especially true for Ihab, a father of two.
Ihab lives with his wife, 4-year-old daughter, and 1-year-old son in a small house in Gaza. In 2019, as he was selling seeds and cold drinks, violence erupted at a demonstration. Ihab was caught in the attack and both of his legs were injured. The lockdown measures put in place due to COVID-19 complicates his recovery. Humanity & Inclusion’s team recently checked in on Ihab. Here’s what he told us:
The injury changed my life completely. It’s been one year, and I am still in pain with medication and have very limited mobility. I can only walk with crutches. I'm stressed and nervous. I think often of my future and my family. How I can support them and earn money to meet essential needs? I'm still a young guy and I can't walk more that 100 meters due to the injury.
Loss of income
The situation worsened after the lockdown. Markets shut down, so now I can’t sell chickens that I raise on the roof of my house. The chickens have become too big and now, no one will buy them. How will I reimburse my loans and debts?
Fear of the virus
I became afraid to leave the house to avoid the spread of the virus among my family. I spend all day at home. I’m depressed, nervous, and spending a lot of time thinking of my future and my family. I used to spend time with my friends or family who visited me at home. They can no longer come, and now I feel isolated.
Rehabilitation services via WhatsApp
In-person rehabilitation services have been suspended. I receive rehabilitation care from Humanity & Inclusion’s partners by phone, which includes physical therapy and wound dressing. They provide me with the dressing materials and I perform it at home and they monitor any complications.
I am in pain when I do the session myself and don't trust my skills even though I'm trained and monitored by the teams. I'm afraid that the wound will get infected. Going to the rehabilitation center was a good opportunity to meet people, and to talk and express my feelings. Now that has come to a stop, and I’m totally depressed.
Hygiene against COVID
The easiest measure for me is to stay home and keep social distancing. I don't have money to purchase the essential needs, so cleaning materials and disinfectants are not priority for me. I have a small water tank. When I sweep the floor, wash clothes, have a shower and wash dishes, it uses all of the water for the day.
Isolation and depression
My life became even more difficult after COVID-19. I'm feeling depressed and worried about the future for myself and my family. I’m worried about the impact of the injury on my future and the ability to join any work. I'm afraid that the relationship between me and my wife will worsen more and more since I can't meet the essential need of her and the kids.
I miss meeting people, especially the outreach team, and the services I used to receive after the injury to improve my physical and psychological condition.
Humanity & Inclusion works to protect the most vulnerable
As of May 15, we count 166 new projects that aim to protect our beneficiaries and staff from the virus, and to help them during their countries' lock downs. As COVID-19 takes aim at our planet's most vulnerable neighbors, we're ensuring that people with disabilities, people with injuries from conflict, children, women, and especially older people have the information--and even the soap--to stay healthy. Learn more about our COVID-19 response.
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