Why are we there?
- Armed conflict
- Palestine: The fight against hopelessness
- Interview with MSF head of mission in Gaza as 'Pillar of Defense' continues
- MSF’s emergency response to operation 'Pillar of Defense' in the Gaza Strip
Residents of Occupied Palestinian Territory continued to suffer the consequences of violence and conflict in 2011.
Dramatic increase in violence
In 2011, the number of attacks, shootings, detentions, demolitions, evictions, raids, night incursions and violent incidents increased alarmingly.
In the West Bank, more than 700 Palestinian civilians were displaced by force. Conflict between Palestinian factions also caused injury and trauma.
Psychological and social care
Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) teams provide medical care, short-term psychotherapy and social assistance and referral to people affected by violence and conflict in the West Bank districts of Hebron, Qalqilya, Nablus and Tubas.
The teams focus on people who show signs of acute stress, anxiety, post-traumatic syndromes or depression. In total, staff carried out more than 1,600 medical consultations and over 4,000 mental health consultations.
The programme is being extended to people in East Jerusalem who are suffering from psychological distress and have no access to such healthcare: in 2011, staff held 223 consultations with residents of Shu’fat refugee camp and the neighbourhood of Silwan.
Similar programmes are operating in the Gaza Strip, but a decision by health authorities forced their suspension in August.
Between January and August, staff carried out 870 medical consultations and more than 2,000 mental health consultations. Most patients were children.
The continuing Israeli embargo of the Gaza Strip, years of financial crisis within the Palestinian National Authority in Ramallah and the chronic lack of cooperation between the Palestinian National Authority and Gaza authorities have all contributed to a deterioration in the capacity of the public health sector.
Since mid-2011, health facilities have been facing a serious shortage of medicines and other supplies. MSF donated essential medicines to the cardiology department of Al-Shifa hospital, and made other periodic donations as needs arose.
Since 2007, MSF has been running a rehabilitation programme for burns victims in the Gaza Strip. The team provides physiotherapy and wound dressing to patients referred from the burns units of Al-Shifa and Nasser hospitals.
MSF also operates a specialised surgery programme in Nasser hospital, which is in Khan Yunis, in the south of the Gaza Strip.
Several times a year, teams of surgeons, operating theatre nurses and anaesthetists carry out complex surgical operations that are not otherwise available. Most of those who undergo surgery are children, and most suffer from burns.
At the end of 2011, MSF had 136 staff in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. MSF has been working in the country since 1989.
In March 2008, Fatima, Mohammed and their three children were evicted from their home by the Israeli army.
“Because of what happened to our house, the children were affected. One of them started to stammer; the teacher wasn’t able to understand him.
"All three children started wetting the bed. An MSF counsellor sat with the children and helped calm them down, and I learned how to deal with the children at night.
"I myself felt anxious, but the counsellor also helped me deal with psychological issues.”