Millions of dollars in emergency funding is needed in Gaza to save the shattered limbs of some 1,700 people who were seriously injured in demonstrations against Israel, a top UN humanitarian official said on Wednesday.
In an appeal for 20 million U.S. dollars to help victims hurt during the “Great March of Return” – weekly protests on Fridays by Gazans that began a year ago, leaving 29,000 people injured, many by live ammunition – Jamie McGoldrick, Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), said that more resources were urgently required.
“Of that 29,000, 7,000 have been shot with live ammunition and those are the ones who have been treated in facilities that were under very serious stress anyway. So the health structures really are in bad shape and that’s why they have put this appeal out for 20 million dollars to address the needs of that 1,700 people, but also to support the health system in a way that’s currently not being supported,” said McGoldrick.
The UN official said that in the current severe situation, the Gaza Strip is in desperate need of substantial medical resources in particular.
“A hundred and twenty amputations have taken place since the beginning of the demonstrations on Friday. Twenty children are among those who have been amputated as well. We are running against the clock for some of these cases and osteomyelitis – bone infection – will be a crisis, and they need to treat that, prevent that, otherwise we will have amputations. The technical ability of doctors on the ground to carry out treatment required for the 1,700 just doesn’t exist,” said McGoldrick.
Speaking in Geneva following a lull in deadly violence at the Israel-Gaza border between militant groups in the Gaza Strip and Israel, McGoldrick insisted on the need for dialogue to address the dire economic and humanitarian situation there.
At present, the average household debt in the Gaza Strip is 4,000 U.S. dollars, the UN official explained, noting that salaries are 400 U.S. dollars a month.
The situation has been made worse by chronically high youth unemployment and the fact that the UN’s 350 million U.S. dollars humanitarian appeal for 2019 is funded at only 14 percent, he said.
“We need the money; we need the resources, so we’re fighting funding gaps on the health front, fighting funding gaps on the food front, and the whole economic collapsing of the system, when people don’t have jobs,” said McGoldrick.
During the recent military activity over the weekend, hundreds of rockets were launched from the OPT into south Israel, and hundreds of airstrikes and tank rounds were fired in return from Israel, causing 29 fatalities in the Gaza Strip and four in Israel, along with some 200 casualties on each side.
“The situation is very precarious. And I think the need for a political solution is all the more highlighted because of how easy it is to slip into something very quickly,” said McGoldrick.