Red Cross providing humanitarian assistance in occupied Palestinian territories

Topics: National, Emergencies and Disasters Worldwide
Red Cross Canada | May 21, 2021

Man in medical mask pulling injured person on stretcher The long-standing humanitarian crisis in the occupied Palestinian territories continues to worsen and the needs are immense. Recent escalations of hostilities are exacerbating an already complex and protracted large-scale humanitarian situation in Gaza and the West Bank, where 2.45 million people rely on humanitarian assistance.

Throughout this protracted crisis, the occupied Palestinian territories has experienced high levels of poverty, disrupted livelihoods and inadequate access to essential services. Access to health care is a challenge with a fragile health system; this is further exacerbated by COVID-19 and the current escalation of hostilities. Safe, clean drinking water and access to stable electricity are immense challenges for many. Vulnerable groups are particularly affected including female-headed households, internally displaced persons, refugees, children, older people, and those with disabilities.

The recent escalations destroyed lives, homes, and damaged critical infrastructure, including hospitals and schools. This was the most serious escalation of violence in the occupied Palestinian territory in recent years. Many families were displaced from their homes and there are concerns that the displacement and unrest may further increase the transmission of COVID-19 and other public health concerns, causing additional strain on the health care system.

Following the ceasefire after 11 days of torment, death and destruction for civilians, the focus must now be on support for reconstruction and recovery. The damage inflicted in less than two weeks will take years, if not decades to rebuild. The impacts of losing family members, the psychological toll from the hostilities and the rehabilitation for those injured or disabled will be lifelong.

We have seen that after each cycle of violence, it is extremely difficult for people to fully recover, causing huge frustration and a real crisis of hope. A ceasefire is not a solution. The root causes of this crisis remain unresolved. There are millions of people in need of humanitarian assistance across Gaza and the West Bank due to the protracted crisis, and we know these numbers and vulnerabilities will only increase with the needs that have arisen as a result of the recent events.
 The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS), officially founded in December 1968, is a national humanitarian organization. Since its establishment, it caters to the health and welfare of the Palestinian people and others in need in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) and the diaspora.It has 4,200 employees in West Bank and Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and Iraq, in addition to its volunteer network of more than 20,000 people.

PRCS strives to ease human suffering through its Emergency Medical Services, preventive and curative health care services, rehabilitation, volunteer activities, and programs promoting social and cultural development, with a focus on the most vulnerable members of the society. PRCS also focuses on the dissemination of the humanitarian values, the fundamental principles of the International Movement of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, in addition to International Humanitarian Law

With the recent escalations of violence, the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement has been working tirelessly to respond to the needs of those impacted. This includes emergency medical services, distribution of relief items and support for displaced families. Following the ceasefire, PRCS is now advancing assessments of the extent of damage, the type and nature of humanitarian and medical assistance required, as well as initial rehabilitation of PRCS services and capacities. PRCS response to these needs will address both immediate needs and longer-term support for those who have been impacted by this current escalation, as well as those struggling to survive in such a protracted crisis.

Canadian Red Cross has a longstanding relationship with PRCS, as members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. We have worked closely with PRCS to strengthen their capacity to respond to emergencies in the occupied Palestinian territories and in PRCS’s response to multiple crises. The positive impacts of these efforts are evident in the work of PRCS to respond to current escalations.
Canadians wishing to help are encouraged to donate to the Palestine Humanitarian Needs Appeal. Donations will enable the Red Cross and Red Crescent to continue their critical work to alleviate suffering and provide humanitarian assistance in the occupied Palestinian territories. This includes emergency medical services, the provision of essential health services, relief supplies, support for people with disabilities and other priority humanitarian efforts as needs evolve.