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Gaza: Urgent needs mount after a year of suffering
Since 30 March 2018, people in Gaza have been protesting in demonstrations known as The Great March of Return. Over the last year, 6,500 men, women and children have been shot by Israeli forces near the fence between the two territories.
With thousands of patients dealing with devastating and complex wounds, the few organisations operating in the blockaded enclave are becoming overwhelmed by the medical, human and financial toll of this crisis.
MSF calls on authorities and the international community to take action.
Over the last year, the 6,500 people that have been shot by Israeli forces during the course of protests have been largely abandoned.
Suffering from complex and severe wounds – mostly to the legs – many of these people are now waiting, with little hope, for comprehensive treatment for their injuries.
With a health system ruined by more than a decade of Israeli blockades, they receive little help from the Palestinian authorities who are stuck in a political stalemate where the medical needs of the population are not their top priority.
Despite the efforts of the teams of the Ministry of Health and the few other health actors involved in the response, the situation in Gaza is becoming medically, financially and humanly unmanageable.
MSF has tripled its capacity in Gaza since the beginning of 2018 but is overwhelmed by the scale of what the teams have been left to take on.
These are not simple wounds that can be easily stitched up. Huge chunks of people's legs have been blown out and their bones shattered. These patients require repeated surgeries simply to clean and close their wounds.
Many have infections, which prevent them from even being considered for the limited reconstructive surgery available.
"We have opened inpatient departments, added to our surgical teams and we care for hundreds of patients every day in our clinics. Yet we still lack enough beds and doctors to tackle resistant infections or to perform the number of complex surgeries required." said MSF's Head of Mission, Marie-Elisabeth Ingres.
"All of the authorities responsible for Gaza – on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides – have a duty to take concrete action.
"Adding to an already heavy toll, violence continues to occur along the fence and recent weeks have seen a further escalation of tension in the area. We are not naïve about the current political situation, but these health needs must be answered."
"We are also disappointed by the lack of action from the international community – despite our repeated calls for support," added Ingres.
"The risk is that we will be forced to leave thousands to their fate: in pain, facing amputations and a lifetime of disabilities. These effects will not be confined to those injured, but will ripple out to their friends and family in a society already brought to the brink of collapse by the blockade."
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