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Health and Nutrition
The health system in occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) is operating under severe pressure due to the effects of the occupation, blockade, rapid population growth, and lack of adequate financial resources and shortages in basic supplies. In the Gaza Strip, years of blockade and movement restrictions on people and materials, including medical resources, compounded by the internal Palestinian divide, have led to a serious deterioration in the availability and quality of health services. The 2014 hostilities added further strain to the health sector. In the West Bank, the key concern is lack of access to quality and affordable health services. Many communities, particularly in Area C, face restricted access to basic health care as a result of insecurity due to the presence and actions of Israeli checkpoints and settler violence. Restrictions on the freedom of movement of patients and ambulances is a particular concern for those seeking specialized treatment in East Jerusalem hospitals.
Articles, statements and press releases
Funding for humanitarian activities in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) is at an all-time low. At the end of September, only $159 million had been secured of a requested $539.7 million for the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), the multi-agency strategy and funding appeal for the humanitarian community in the oPt. Funding for the oPt HRP is at only 30 per cent, significantly lower than the current global average of 42 per cent.
Palestinians in Gaza who wish to exit the enclave can only do so through the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing or the Rafah crossing, which is controlled by Egypt. The Erez crossing is vitally important as it controls the movement of people between Gaza and the West Bank via Israel. Since the early 1990s, Palestinian residents of Gaza have required an exit permit to leave through Erez. Under a policy implemented since the beginning of the second Intifada in September 2000 - and tightened after June 2007, citing security concerns, following the takeover of Gaza by Hamas - only people belonging to specific Israeli-defined categories are eligible for an exit permit, subject to a security check.
Today, the Humanitarian Coordinator, Jamie McGoldrick, announced the release of US$1 million from the Humanitarian Fund for the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt HF) to prevent the collapse of life-saving services in the Gaza Strip. The allocation will go to the UN-Assisted Emergency Fuel Programme, which provides emergency fuel, mainly for back-up electricity generators, at around 250 critical health, water and sanitation facilities in the Gaza Strip.
Since 30 March 2018, Palestinian casualties in the Gaza Strip have increased significantly due to the mass demonstrations taking place along the perimeter fence with Israel and, to a lesser extent, hostilities and other incidents.
This week, final stocks of emergency fuel will be delivered to critical facilities in the Gaza Strip, through the United Nations-Assisted Emergency Fuel Program. The Humanitarian Coordinator, Jamie McGoldrick, has written to the donor community requesting immediate support for the program, which provides life-saving emergency fuel to operate standby emergency power generators at critical health centers, and water and sanitation facilities in the Gaza Strip. Funds donated thus far in 2018 have been depleted.
The immense electricity deficit affecting the Gaza Strip, alongside the longstanding shortage of adequate sanitation infrastructure, continues to result in the discharge of 100-108 million litres of poorly treated sewage into the sea every day. This situation poses serious health and environmental hazards, particularly during the summer when swimming in the sea is one of the few recreational activities available to the population of Gaza. According to WHO, water-related diseases are estimated to account for over one-fourth of illnesses and are the primary cause of child morbidity in the Gaza Strip. The current operation of wastewater treatment plants may be undermined further in the near future due to the funding gaps facing the UN programme of emergency fuel to run backup generators at critical facilities, as well as the recent tightening of the blockade.