|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUST 19, 2005
Palestinians Ongoing Humanitarian Crisis Deepening in Gaza
ATLANTA - August 19 - Thousands of Palestinians in Gaza are suffering from a chronic humanitarian crisis that is deepening during the disengagement period.
Liz Sime, CARE’s country director for West Bank and Gaza said: "Poverty in Gaza is increasing at an alarming rate. The UN predicts more than 70 percent of the population will be living below the poverty level by next year. This is an extremely vulnerable population. Their ability to cope would be severely challenged by further restrictions on their mobility and capacity to get to hospitals, markets and water sources. We cannot ignore their basic needs during the disengagement process, which is likely to take several months."
While media attention has understandably focused on the experiences of Israeli settlers, CARE urges the international community to recognize the ongoing needs of the many poor villagers and farmers in the area. Their ability to reach essential services such as medical centers and to travel to work and markets is under increasing strain during the disengagement
During this process movement has been restricted inside Gaza, closing off various Palestinian communities. A checkpoint in the middle of the Gaza Strip is closed during the day, and opens at night, from 1am and 5 am, to allow movement from the north to the south of the Gaza Strip. Other restrictions on movement are in force in the West Bank areas near the settlements to be evacuated.
In anticipation of these restrictions, CARE, which has been based in the West Bank and Gaza since 1948, has distributed medical supplies to 70 health clinics in the affected communities. These village clinics serve more than 50,000 poor families.
Sime said, "We have helped village clinics stock up on essential medical supplies, so that if their community were to be affected by a closure, or movement restriction, the doctors and nurses will at least have medicine to treat patients on the spot. We have also provided additional medical stretchers and electrical generators to hospitals in Gaza so that they can better cope with power shortages and major medical emergencies."
About CARE in West Bank and Gaza: CARE has worked in West Bank and Gaza since 1948, with the exception of a 10-year period from 1984-1994. CARE works in partnership with 23 local and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and nine government ministries and departments on integrated and children's health projects as well as projects working to improve agriculture and natural resources and encourage small economic activities