Gaza, disabled populations at risk

A group of disabled men in Gaza A group of disabled men in Gaza Mohammed Asad / Middle East Monitor

03 December 2020

Populations with disabilities prone to vulnerabilities are suffering from a lack of access to basic services 

The situation of populations with disabilities in Gaza is now becoming dire. Basic services that enable them to access mobility, healthcare, and sustainable income have become jeopardized due to conflict between Hamas and the Isreali government. According to a recent study conducted by the Palestinean Census Bureau, 48,000 people in Gaza live with a physical disability. Out of whom, approximately one-fifth are children. One of the main problems that affects children with disabilities in Gaza is that most of the time they don’t have a reliable way of getting to school. There isn’t enough public transportation available that is focused to safely take them to school and back. 

A report by the Human Rights Watch mentioned that freedom of movement for populations with disabilities is attributed to the 2007 Isreali blockade imposed in Gaza after Hamas quickly rose in power.The blockade includes limitations on energy consumption and acquisition of basic goods. Alongside Israel's control of the eastern bloc of Gaza, it has hindered their access to vital electricity, technology, and devices that would allow them to move freely. Unfortunately, Hamas has not been able to provide these services that become more and more scarce. 

Women with disabilities are also experiencing a high extent of suffering. HRW reported that three deaf-mute women could not communicate with staff at a local hospital because they didn’t not provide any sign language services. One of them, by the name of Heba AbuJazer, stated that a nurse wrote on a piece of paper to leave and come back with an interpreter. This incredibly unfair practice highlights the tremendous adversity that the disabled community in Gaza has to deal with.

On a more macro level, 80% of Gaza’s population is dependent on humanitarian aid for basic survival. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has stifled the influx of help. With less aid, more than half the population lives below the poverty line making less than $4.60 per day while unemployment rates have increased by approximately 50 percent. The international community has been urging the Isreali government to ease sanctions of the blockade so that the most vulnerable populations in Gaza, including persons with disabilities. can receive the help they so desperately need.


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Author: Sergio Gomez; Editor: Aleksandra Krol

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