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WHO details mental health impact for Palestinians under Israel occupation

May 23, 2019 at 12:00 pm

A Palestinian child rests in bed after she suffered shrapnel wounds to her shoulder and back after Israeli forces fired a rocket in Gaza in 2003 [ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images]

A World Health Organisation (WHO) report has described the chronic state of mental health in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), as a result of Israeli occupation and violence.

According to the WHO, mental ill health represents “one of the most significant public health challenges” in the oPt.

In the Gaza Strip in particular, “over half of conflict-affected children may be affected by post-traumatic stress disorder”, while “an estimated 210,000, or over one in 10, people suffer from severe or moderate mental health disorders in the Gaza Strip”.

Overall, the WHO stated, the oPt “has one of the highest burdens of adolescent mental disorders in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.”

About 54 per cent of Palestinian boys and 47 per cent of Palestinian girls aged six to 12 years “reportedly have emotional and/or behavioural disorders”, while “the overall disease burden for mental illness” is estimated to account for some three per cent “of disability-adjusted life years”.

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The WHO report also gave an overview of the violence experienced by Palestinians at the hands of Israeli occupation forces.

According to the document, “in 2018, 299 Palestinians were killed and 29,878 injured in the context of occupation and conflict”, with 87 per cent of those killed and 80 per cent of those injured in the Gaza Strip – a proportion attributable to the Great March of Return protests.

Some 6,239 Palestinians were injured with live ammunition, with 113 amputations taking place in in the Gaza Strip last year “as the result of injuries sustained during demonstrations”, in addition to “21 people paralysed due to spinal cord injuries and nine people suffering permanent sight loss”.