Handicap International has been present in the Palestinian Territories since 1996. Over two years after the conflict in Gaza in summer 2014, the lives of civilians are still at risk from explosive remnants of war. At least 4,500 explosive devices are still buried under the rubble of the houses and infrastructure destroyed in the fighting. Handicap International organizes risk education sessions to prevent more people falling victim to these weapons. The organization also implements development projects throughout the Palestinian Territories. The organization employs 25 national staff members and two expatriates.
The situation in the Palestinian Territories has deteriorated since 2000 and the second Intifada. Following Hamas’s election victory and its formation of a government, international aid to the Palestinian authorities was frozen. Both economic and social conditions deteriorated rapidly. Since the expulsion of Fatah in 2007, the Gaza Strip has been subjected to a blockade by Israel and Egypt. During the events of summer 2014, 440,000 people were forced to seek refuge in collective shelters, with thousands of civilians killed or injured. There was widespread destruction, with 216 schools and 33 hospitals destroyed.
Restrictions on the movement of Palestinians are affecting people with disabilities particularly badly, as they find it extremely difficult to get around and access the services they need. The country's hilly landscape, particularly the West Bank, together with the lack of public and accessible transport, further exacerbates these difficulties. People with disabilities have to contend with discrimination at every level of society, in particular in the areas of education and employment. This situation is especially difficult for women with disabilities and the mothers of children with disabilities.
Mine Risk Education
The 50-day conflict in the summer of 2014 was extremely violent, displacing the people of Gaza to areas where they were less exposed to fighting. After returning to their homes at the end of the conflict, the Gazan people are now at constant risk from the lethal threat of explosive remnants of war.
Since March 2015, Handicap International has already delivered some 700 risk education sessions to more than 5,000 adults and children. The organization assesses damaged or destroyed buildings to determine the level or type of risk posed by the potential presence of explosive devices. If necessary, following the audit, civil engineering teams are deployed to clear the rubble and demining teams are called in to neutralize explosive remnants of war.
In the six months following the conflict, Handicap International and its four local partners also organized 28,000 rehabilitation sessions for more than 4,800 people. In addition, around 6,400 people have been referred to specific services provided by other organizations and more than 2,000 people have received psychological support. Handicap International has also distributed 2,500 mobility aids (crutches and wheelchairs) and 4,000 non-food items, such as blankets and hygiene kits. Handicap International also operates a project to improve the care of children with cerebral palsy in the Palestinian Territories.
Access to Essential Services
Handicap International works to improve persons with disabilities’ access to basic essential services in the Palestinian Territories. The organization facilitates awareness raising among civil society groups about the importance of including persons with disabilities, particularly the importance of physical access; runs mobile rehabilitation units; and donates equipment and medical supplies for the care of children and adults with disabilities.
Handicap International runs multiple projects aimed at improving the social, educational, and economic inclusion of persons with disabilities. The organization works to build the capacity of Disable People's Organizations (DPOs) and raise the awareness of civil society organizations and the public authorities about the rights of people with disabilities and about incorporating the issue of disabilities into their policies. Handicap International supports the work of DPOs to assess inclusive education policies and to generally advocate for the rights of people with disabilities.
THESE PROJECTS ARE POSSIBLE THANKS TO HANDICAP INTERNATIONAL DONORS, AND THE FOLLOWING FUNDING BODIES: