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Eyewitness: ceasefire declared but medical emergency continues

28 August 2014

A ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians was finally agreed on 26 August, bringing to an end more than seven weeks of extreme violence.

Yet the medical emergency continues for our partner PMRS, who are providing services to the injured and traumatised despite damage to their clinics.

Human cost of war

In the seven weeks of hostilities, 1,462 Palestinian civilians have lost their lives, including 495 children. Five civilians, including one foreign national, died in Israel.

Doctors treat a wounded man

In Gaza, at least 10,224 were wounded, over 3,106 of them children.

As many as 1,000 of these children will suffer a lifelong disability, and tens of thousands more are suffering from psychological trauma, displaying symptoms such as convulsions, involuntary urination, anxiety and neuroses.

Medical response - only just beginning

Throughout the seven-week escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip, our partner the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) have been seeing 600 people a day in their medical centres and mobile clinics. 

They have mobilised 11 teams that provide medical care, psychosocial services and home wound dressing, and are providing assistive devices for people with disabilities.

In addition, the PMRS teams have been distributing humanitarian aid. Even before the long-term ceasefire was announced, they had visited 54 schools being used as shelters by 113,868 people. 

Their job will only increase now, as they seek to respond to the long-term needs of those injured and traumatised by over 50 days of conflict.

Medical services hit

PMRS continue to provide life-saving services, stepping up to do more now that the security situation allows.

However, six of their centres have sustained severe damage. Of these, three have managed to either continue working or to reopen, but the remaining three are currently unusable.

Gaza’s medical system operates under crippling constraints - such as shortages of power and medicines - due to the impact of the long-term Israeli blockade, which severely limits movement of people and goods into and out of the Strip.

Fifty eight hospitals and clinics, including the six PMRS clinics, were damaged during the latest attacks, further undermining Gazans’ access to desperately needed healthcare.

The hostilities may be over, but for PMRS and those injured in the attacks, the long and difficult recovery process is only just beginning. 

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