PALESTINA - BALSAM
Rapporti sulla situazione sanitaria
UPMRC Response to the Current Crisis
State: 11 04 2002
Since the beginning of the current humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian Territories caused by the latest Israeli invasion on the 29th of March, MedicaI Relief has been one of the few medicaI organisations that has been able to operate despite the violent Israeli attacks on and blatant disregard of the protected status of emergency medical personnel and ambulances. The curfew imposed on the Palestinian re-occupied towns, the attacks on medical personnel and ambulances, the attacks on hospitals and clinics, and arrests of emergency medicai workers have more or less paralysed the health system in Palestine, both because of the strict curfew imposed on the towns and their population, and because of the denied access and attacks on medicai teams and infrastructures. The number of Palestinians killed exceeds now 300, with at least 2000 injured people in 12 days, which represents a very heavy and all-too-sudden burden on medical infrastructures.
I Towns Invaded Date
Ramallah March 29, 2002
Beit Jalla April 1 , 2002
Qalqiliya April 1 , 2002
Tulkarem April 2, 2002 I
Beit Lehem and Beit Sahour April 2, 2002
Salfit April 3, 2002
Nablus April 3, 2002
Jenin April 3, 2002
Hebron (partially) April 4, 2002
Qabatiyah April 6, 2002 l
Yatta April 6,2002
Dura April 9, 2002
Bir Zeit April 11, 2002
Thanks to the bravery of the teams and the contribution of numerous volunteers UPMRC has been able to gather through its various grassroots activities, Medicai Relief has been able to overcome some of the obstacles the Israeli army has imposed in its attempt to prevent medicai assistance to the injured and sick. UPMRC has adapted new strategies (tield hospitals and intense cooperation with partner medicai organisations) and conducted intensive work with media and with intemational organisations. This has made it possible for UPMRC to operate, function and to provide medicai services, although with a limited and redetined scope.
Infrastructures - An overview
Out of the 25 primary health care centres run by UPMRC throughout Palestine, 23 have remained opened and are offering medicai services to some extent. A number of these clinics are under curfew, though they stilI operate as much as possible, whenever the curfew has been lifted or when the movement of UPMRC ambulances has allowed it. Our centre in Qalqilya was attacked and partially destroyed in the tirst day of occupation; it was later turned into an interrogating and detention location for the Israeli forces. In Ramallah, our main health centre was deliberately shelled and two rooms were destroyed with explosives. The material losses are signiticant, but the staff have managed to perform their work in other locations. The Youth centre was ransacked and many of its computers were destroyed. Both the Medicai Equipment Loan centre and Optometry centre suffered extensive damages. Israeli attacks also destroyed three of our vehicles and damaged two ambulances. Whenever Israeli troops begin their effective and full-range withdrawal, UPMRC fears to tind other and more extensive damages to its buildings (Iike during the previous occupation in February , where the School of Community Health building sustained heavy damages from the Israeli troops' wanton behaviours and destructions).
-In the last 14 days 65 attacks against UPMRC medical services or personnel. These attacks have included: numerous ambulances shot at, ambulance driver detained for 6 days, director of emergency services used as a "human shield" by Israeli forces during searches. Moreover, three cars were destroyed, and three ambulances were damaged.
How the UPMRC has been operating since the invasion (March 29, 2002):
-Transportation of injured and dead people from attacked areas. This is done with great difficulties because of the systematic obstruction and violation of humanitarian law by Israeli occupying troops.
-Six Field Hospitals were established in the tirst days of March in Nablus where heavy tighting was expected. They have alI been used, but the activities have concentrated mostly on the tield hospitals in AI-Baik Mosque, in the Old City , and in Askar refugee camp. No medical supplies have been allowed in yet to those tield hospitals. On Tuesday night (09-04), the medicai team of the Old City tield hospital courageously broke the curfew to evacuate corpses gathering there for 7 days. They took enormous risks (the curfew had not been lifted and took the soldiers by surprise) to transport the dead bodies towards the main road, by whatever means possible, outside the Casbah, so that the medical and ICRC teams could evacuate them properly.
-A new medicaI centre was established in Ramallah. Helped by 3 ambulances (two rented ambulances on top of our own ambulance) covering three different parts of Ramallah, our staff provides services and counselling to people who telephone from their homes. In Betlehem, the Medical Relief office there has been transformed into a medical center providing first aid
-Distribution of medical supplies and equipment to hospitals e.g Mizan in Hebron and Arab Care in Ramallah. Four convoys of medication were brought in, thanks to the help of UN organisations (Ramallah -02-04), Israeli Physicians for Human Rights (Ramallah 03-04 and Jenin 10-04) and various international organisations (Nablus 09- 04). Ramallah was the first town to be reinvaded, but in preparation for other invasions in other cities throughout the West Bank, Medical Relief stockpiled as many medications as possible to our health centres, in order to be able to face dire situations imposed by future curfews and violent re-occupation
-During curfew, Medical Relief tries to distribute medicines and medication to people in need, particularly to children, the disabled and patients with chronic diseases who are dependent on regular medication. This can only be done during lulls in fighting and Israeli operations and thanks to our broad grassroots network.
-Distribution of food supplies and water, milk ( especially baby milk) in hospitals and in our health centres. UPMRC has been the only organization distributing food packages to people house-to-house, providing for those most in need.
-Informing Palestinian communities of our newly established emergency centres in each re-occupied city in the West Bank, field hospitals, and food distribution seIVices through establishing emergency call-in lines. The media has played an important role in publicizing these seIVices. UPMRC emergency services have been systematically announced on local TV stations (as long as they where operational -most of them has now been taken over by the Israeli army and closed down) and through satellite TV stations such as Abu Dhabi and AI-Jazeera.
-Informing and mobilising the world community. As other Palestinian civil society organizations, Medical Relief thinks it is of prime importance to inform its network of international friends of what is happening and mobilising support to stop the attacks and support the disb"ibution of medical assistance. We are also receiving invaluable support from members of the international community who are present in Ramallah and voluntarily travel in our ambulances. With the help of these international volunteers we have been able to impose on the Israeli army a structure that works and which enables us to carry out our humanitarian duties/work. We would like to tthis opportunity to thank alI foreign medical staff and personnel who are with us during this time of crisis.
-Offering ali services free of charge. Due to the harsh economic situation, UPMRC has offered alI emergency seIVices free of charge to beneficiaries.
With damages inflicted on our infrastructures (see list), the future work of UPMRC will be hampered with great certainties. We call on the continued support of volunteers from local and foreign groups to support us in this crisis and come out to help our medicai teams. We invite individuals and organizations to join our efforts through financial contributions. We also cali upon the international community and foreign governments to take immediate action to force Israel to end its attacks on the Palestinian civilian population and to fully respect the international humanitarian law.
Location Type of damage
Ramallah health centre Two rooms totally destroyed by Israeli shelling and bombing Severe damage to equipment (photocopy machines, computers) and administrative material
Optometry Centre -Ramallah I Most of the specialized equipment was totally made
unoperational. Walls brought down. Materials damaged
Loan Centre -Ramallah Building damaged. Equipment partially damaged
Youth Centre –Ramallah Building damaged. Some computers destroyed
Qalqiliya Health Centre Partially destroyed and used as interrogating centre
3 ambulances Damaged
3 vehicles Destroyed