The head of the Popular International Committee to Support the Gaza Strip has urged the international community to take immediate action to save the lives of patients in Gaza. “The suffering of all of the Palestinians trapped in the Gaza Strip by the Israeli-led siege should be ended,” insisted Dr Essam Yousef. The repercussions of the siege affect all vital sectors in Gaza, he added, leading to tragic results that put the enclave on the brink of “total collapse”.
Yousef warned of an “explosion” that will have serious humanitarian and security implications due to the tightening of the siege which has gripped Gaza for more than 11 years. “There is also unjust political pressure being applied to the Palestinians,” he explained. “The latest example of this is the US decision to cut its donations to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).” The Agency provides services that governments usually provide, the veteran humanitarian activist pointed out. “Palestinians are being deprived of both state provision and the only alternative in the present scenario. That has to be wrong.”
According to Yousef, the most drastic effects of the siege are apparent in Gaza’s health sector, where a number of hospitals and health centres have had to stop working because there is no fuel and a chronic shortage of medicines and medical disposables. “Health workers simply don’t have the resources to allow them to do their work.”
As a spokesman for the Ministry of Health in Gaza wrote in MEMO yesterday, the closure of the border crossings has an adverse effect on patients who are in dire need of medical treatment abroad. “Dozens of patients,” said Yousef, “including children, have died over the past year, while hundreds of patients are on waiting lists for vital treatment.”
With power cuts and fuel shortages having a major impact on the health sector — emergency generators are only intended for temporary, short-term use, stressed Yousef — the Committee head made a powerful appeal to the international community for support. “Please allocate a budget and help hospitals and clinics in the Gaza Strip to provide essential health care. Such support is urgent, and needed now more than ever before.”
Dr Yousef added that international support from NGOs and governments will play a significant role in saving the lives of Palestinian patients, young and old alike.