MSF provides medical and psychological assistance to people affected by the ongoing conflict in Palestine.
The continued expansion of Israeli settlements on the West Bank increased tensions and violence in 2015. In October, two settlers were shot dead in what was believed to be revenge for an arson attack which had killed a Palestinian family in July. Residents of Gaza are still suffering the consequences of 2014’s 50-day war, and are still waiting for their houses to be rebuilt due to restrictions on the importation of construction materials.
According to the United Nations, 170 Palestinians and 26 Israelis were killed, and more than 15,300 Palestinians and 350 Israelis injured, in 2015.
Jerusalem and the West Bank
MSF’s mental health programmes in Hebron, Nablus and Qalqilya governorates, and East Jerusalem, provided psychological and social support to victims of political violence. In 2015, MSF carried out 5,522 individual and group mental health consultations, more than 50 per cent of which were in Hebron (2,959). From October, spiralling violence there, particularly in the ‘H2’ area of the old city, led to a significant increase in activities. In an atmosphere of tension and fear, many people sought help for problems with sleeping, anger and anxiety; many children were suffering from nightmares and bed-wetting. Over 5,300 people attended psycho-education sessions run by MSF to help them develop coping mechanisms. MSF also provided training for medical staff, teachers and counsellors.
In 2015, MSF commemorated 10 years of working in Nablus with a series of events to highlight the importance of mental health services in Palestine, including a public debate, an interactive play, three comic strips telling the personal stories of some of MSF’s patients and a conference on psychological care.
In October, MSF started a partnership in East Jerusalem with a local NGO, the Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture (TRC), in an effort to improve access to people in need of care.
MSF´s burn and trauma centres in Gaza City and Khan Younis treated over 2,500 patients, mostly children. Staff conducted more than 35,000 physiotherapy and 1,000 occupational therapy sessions. The majority of patients had burns, usually the result of domestic accidents in conflict-damaged homes. In September, MSF requested authorisation to open a third specialised clinic in the north of Gaza. From late 2014 to April 2015, an MSF burns awareness campaign reached more than 35,500 children in schools and nurseries, and a new campaign was launched in November.
In conjunction with the health ministry, MSF ran surgical programmes in Al Shifa and Nasser hospitals and staff performed a total of 390 surgical interventions. The majority of patients were suffering from burns.
Complex cases that cannot be handled in Gaza are referred to MSF’s reconstructive surgery hospital in Jordan. However, the administrative component of referrals caused delays and only six out of 67 patients were successfully referred in 2015.
MSF resumed mental health activities in Gaza during the 2014 war, but it was ordered by the Ministry of Health to suspend activities in April and by the end of the year had not been able to restart.
No. staff in 2015: 132 | Expenditure: €5.5 million | Year MSF first worked in the country: 1989 | msf.org/palestine