JUZOOR RESPONSE REPORT Update #4 - GAZA SITUATION
JUZOOR RESPONSE REPORT Update #4
GAZA SITUATION - December 4, 2023
Since October 7, the Gaza Strip has witnessed devastating bombardment. As of the date of this report, the attacks have resulted in the tragic loss of more than 15,000 Palestinian lives, including more than 6,000 children, 4,000 women, and 700 elderly, and injured more than 41,000, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza. Electricity and fuel have been cut off from the entire strip, and food, water, and medications are extremely scarce. More than 60% of all housing units in Gaza have been destroyed, leaving more than 1.7 million people displaced, majority of whom were forcibly evacuated from the North. UNRWA school shelters, now hosting thousands of displaced individuals beyond their capacities, are reporting high levels of air, waste, and environment pollution, exposing more than 1.1 million displaced persons to life-threatening conditions and infectious diseases. Prior to November 27, the healthcare system had completely collapsed in the North. Hospitals were sieged and raided for several consecutive days, killing patients and healthcare personnel who were inside, and only a few hospitals were operational in the South. A temporary truce that went into effect on November 24 allowed some medical aid into Gaza. On December 1, Israel resumed attacks on the Gaza Strip following the expiration of the truce, and the health situation remains dire and on the brink of total collapse.
Juzoor's Medical Outreach Response in Northern Gaza
Juzoor has been working round the clock to deploy individuals on the ground and provide medical assistance and attention to those who need it. Juzoor has taken charge of 50 UNRWA and government school shelters across the Gaza Strip that host over 200,000 individuals (30 in the North area, including Gaza City, and 20 in the Middle and South areas, including Rafah and Khan Younes). We've assembled health professionals, including doctors, nurses, and midwives, from among the displaced individuals and established a 'health committee' in every shelter equipped with first aid kits, medications, and medical supplies and equipment. This committee serves everyone in need, focusing on children, pregnant women, the elderly, people with non-communicable diseases like diabetes, and wounded people. As of November, around 19% of displaced people in Juzoor’s shelters have some burns or wounds. Our health committees offer health support and medical attention, with services like wound dressing and delivery of medications. It's worth mentioning that Juzoor is among the few organizations operating in the North of Gaza to provide medical and health services.
Health Initiatives & Supplies
Juzoor personnel on the ground in Gaza conduct inspection visits and assessments for our 50 shelters on a regular basis, assessing their needs by meeting with the health committees, and facilitating with the local market to replenish medications and supplies. Our team continues to supply shelters with supplies and consumables on a daily or weekly basis, including assistive devices and medications, as needed and assessed by the team. Juzoor also received 10,000 hygiene kits from UNICEF, which were handed out to families in shelters in the North of Gaza, each kit serving 5 families, as well as emergency bags, essential supplies, medications, and pediatric drugs. We also received 600 clean kits from UNFPA and distributed them to pregnant women. In light of the extreme water shortage and risk of dehydration, Juzoor received 16 trucks of bottled water from UNICEF, each carrying 22,000 1.5-liter bottles of water, which were distributed to shelters in the North.
Juzoor has started a vaccine initiative program targeting children and newborns in some of our shelters in the North of Gaza where vaccines are available, through collaboration with the Palestinian Ministry of Health. As part of this program, we use a cold-chain monitoring system to maintain good quality and efficacy of these vaccines, by using solar-powered refrigerators to ensure these vaccine’s proper storage and distribution within a certain temperature range. Juzoor is looking to expand this program, particularly to the South of Gaza, but is limited by access to solar panels in some regions, of which some were destroyed by bombings, and faces challenges in maintaining the supply chain.
Providing Psychosocial Support
Juzoor has recruited and mobilized teams of psychosocial support professionals to operate and offer psychosocial support services in shelters. These services cater to children traumatized by the bombings, families who've lost homes or loved ones, and the elderly, who battle feelings of isolation and helplessness. As part of this program, our trained psychosocial support groups have been conducting support sessions and recreational activities, particularly for children, on a daily basis. Our teams have been planning and carrying out child activities like handball, tug of war, and hide & seek, and we have also managed to supply and distribute recreation kits for children and families which contain products to carry out activities with like drawing, drama, and sports. This program has also extended support services to the elderly and healthcare providers, particularly to volunteers in Juzoor’s health committees, who have been working tirelessly since October 7, to alleviate some of their stress and encourage them to continue their work in serving the people of Gaza.
Supporting the Elderly
Juzoor has been able to provide support to the hundreds of older persons in its shelters. As a first step, these individuals were interviewed and examined for NCDs and were tested for their blood pressure, blood sugar levels, history of medication, symptoms of asthma and respiratory stress, and any surgical wounds. Juzoor continues to working on procuring and distributing essential items, supplies, and medications to the elderly in our shelters.
Health & Psychosocial Support Helpline
More than half of Gaza‘s population currently has no access to healthcare services. In light of this serious humanitarian crisis, and the large number of those who sustained injuries, those with pre-existing conditions, those suffering from mental distress, and pregnant/birthing mothers and newborns, Juzoor has established an emergency helpline for primary healthcare and psychosocial support. Those who are unable to seek medical care and those who are in need of psychosocial support can call our toll-free number at 1800-500-600 to receive help from specialized professionals who are adept at addressing calls and providing coaching assistance. This helpline also offers medical and psychosocial support for women during pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period, and advises them about the care and health of their child.
Pregnancy & Delivery Care Initiative
As of this moment, there are thousands of pregnant women who are having to give birth in Juzoor’s shelters. Juzoor has been working to mobilize volunteers from its network of midwives to assist in births and deliveries happening in these shelters. We have been offering midwives orientation and sensitization sessions to equip them with up-to-date knowledge and skills, and have provided them with midwifery kits designed to equip them to carry out home deliveries and regular check-ups, ensuring the safety of birthing mothers and their children. In addition to the above, Juzoor is also distributing specialized kits carrying essential items that cater to the immediate needs of the mother and the baby post-delivery.
Juzoor distributed cash vouchers to internally displaced persons (IDPs) residing in the 50 shelters, with a particular focus on elderly individuals and those requiring assistance that goes beyond what our on-ground team can provide. These cash vouchers were a means of directly addressing the urgent and diverse needs of these vulnerable individuals who have lost their homes and all their belongings.
Online First Aid Resources
As civilians continue to face high risk of injury, Juzoor has published first aid resources extensively across social media platforms that have reached around 150,000 individuals in the Gaza Strip. These resources include tips and protocols on dealing with burns, bleeding, and breastfeeding, as well as useful information on psychosocial support and maternity (i.e. kangaroo care for newborns).
Policy & Advocacy
As part of its Policy Dialogue & Advocacy Program, Juzoor has recently published reports addressing the conditions of both the elderly population and maternal and child health in Gaza. These reports highlight the impact of war on these vulnerable communities, emphasizing the health-related challenges they are forced to face. Through these reports, Juzoor aims to shed light on the often neglected issues faced by these communities and advocate for the necessary attention and support. The overarching goal is to bring awareness to the unique challenges arising from war and promote advocacy initiatives that prioritize the wellbeing of these marginalized groups.
Deteriorating Living Conditions and a Call for Support
Living conditions in shelters continue to worsen as food and water supplies run low and air and waste pollution run high. There have been many reported cases of outbreaks of diarrhea, scabies, and head lice in these shelters, particularly in children. In November alone, around 26% of the displaced people in our shelters had diarrhea. This is likely due to the lack of water for drinking and cleaning after Israeli attacks on Gaza’s water and sewage systems. People lack basic hygiene and are forced to drink sea or contaminated water for survival, raising concerns for waterborne diseases. Most of the northern UNRWA school shelters haven't disposed of waste for more than a 50 days, leading to waste accumulation inside and outside all centers, not to mention the decaying bodies on the streets and under the rubble, which pose a serious health threat and raise concerns for all kinds of infectious diseases.
As a result of the high number of internally displaced persons, some individuals have been forced to seek refuge in the streets and in tents near school shelters. Although the health committees have expanded their services to accommodate individuals in their vicinity, the daily increase in the number of IDPs raises concerns of overcrowding and potential infectious disease outbreaks. These shelters are not equipped to accommodate large numbers of displaced people and are already hosting up to six times their intended capacity, with some classrooms sleeping 70 or more individuals, and forcing up to 4500 people to share a single bathroom.
While Juzoor has been actively addressing health issues across Gaza, first starting with shelters in the North and then expanding to shelters across the strip, the situation is rapidly deteriorating. The health committees are inevitably becoming overwhelmed, and medical supplies are running short all across the Gaza Strip. Our teams have been working tirelessly, even in extremely challenging conditions, including direct bombings, to ensure that essential medications, medical materials, and supplies reach those in need and that the 50 shelters are properly managed. Nevertheless, the severity of the situation and the growing demands surpass our current resources. Numerous shelters hosting tens of thousands of displaced civilians, particularly in Northern Gaza, remain without proper aid.
Juzoor appeals to the international community and global humanitarian organizations and entities to assist in saving the lives of the sick, women, elderly, and children, particularly those in Northern Gaza and Gaza City. Your support and collaboration have always been invaluable to us, and your contribution can have a substantial impact on alleviating the suffering of the people of Gaza.
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