2021-06-11

ICRC spokesperson for the Gaza region: Gaza reconstruction needs three “priorities”

By yqqlm yqqlm

China News Service, Beijing, June 11th, title: ICRC spokesperson for the Gaza region: Gaza reconstruction needs three “immediate priorities”

Israel and Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip are more than ten years old After the ceasefire of the conflict in the sky, reconstruction is imminent. The spokesperson of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Gaza, Sohail Zakut, recently accepted a video interview with a reporter from China News Agency to introduce the humanitarian situation in the region and call on all walks of life in the international community to pay attention to the “priority” facing the reconstruction of the Gaza region.

ICRC spokesperson for the Gaza region: Gaza reconstruction needs three “priorities”

The picture shows the ICRC Gaza area Spokesperson Suhaier Zakut was interviewed by a reporter from China News Agency via video. Photo by Xiao Xin

“For the past 16 years, I have been working for the ICRC, most of the time in the Gaza area. In fact, in the past ten years, the Gaza area has never really recovered from the conflict. Previously, the people here have once again endured the torture brought about by the escalation of the conflict.” Zakut said that since 2008, the Gaza region has experienced four “significant escalations” of regional conflicts, which occurred in 2008, 2012, and 2014. As in 2021, the people in Gaza are experiencing a “circle of violence.” With each conflict, the local humanitarian situation and basic services to ensure people’s livelihood have dropped by one level, “never restored to the pre-conflict level.”

“Air strikes and artillery have stopped, but people’s real struggle has just begun.” Regarding the reconstruction of the Gaza region, which has attracted international attention, Zakut said that the ICRC has dealt with the recent conflict. The damage is still being evaluated. According to local official statistics, more than 250 people were killed, nearly 2,000 were injured, and more than 50,000 were displaced during the 11-day armed conflict. The homes are reduced to ruins again, the new crown epidemic has worsened, and the vicious circle of fear and destruction has caused psychological shocks… The local reconstruction process faces a large number of and complex humanitarian needs.

ICRC Director General Robert Mardini visited the Gaza region earlier this month and issued a statement saying that the top priority is to solve the key needs of the Gaza region. For this purpose, an initial additional budget of 11 million US dollars will be provided to urgently assist the local medical system and repair. Large-scale infrastructure, providing mental health support, etc. Zakut specifically introduced the three “priority tasks” facing the reconstruction of Gaza to reporters.

ICRC spokesperson for the Gaza region: Gaza reconstruction needs three “priorities”(1)

The picture shows the Director General of ICRC Robert Mardini visited the Gaza area. Photo courtesy of ICRC

The first “priority” is health services. A surgical team of the ICRC has arrived in Gaza. One of the priorities of its work is to bring more medical supplies to support the local medical system that is already stressed and fragile but needs to respond to the spread of the new crown epidemic at the same time.

Zakut said that in the past year, the new crown epidemic has severely impacted the local health system, with shortages of medical supplies and overloading of medical staff. During the escalation of the conflict, there was a severe shortage of fuel, and only three hours a day of power supply could be guaranteed, making hospitals and intensive care units worse. According to statistics from the local health department, there are still more than 80 critically ill patients receiving treatment in the intensive care unit. At present, there are about 100,000 doses of the new crown vaccine delivered to Gaza, which can be used by 50,000 people. The total population of Gaza is about 2 million. There is a serious shortage of vaccines, and the population density of communities and schools is high, and the socialization required for epidemic prevention cannot be guaranteed. The distance worries the local health department and the Red Cross.

Not only that, the mental health of the local people has also suffered severe damage. “It is conceivable that the ongoing conflict in a region will hit the local economy and the mental health of the people”, Zakut pointed out that according to the ICRC-related mental health research, 20% of people living in conflict areas suffer from mental health problems. “I pay special attention to children”, she said, “My colleague told me that his children dare not go to the bathroom at night, even after the ceasefire, dare not go out at night, and dare not even dare to stay at home without their parents. Take a few steps”.

ICRC spokesperson for the Gaza region: Gaza reconstruction needs three “priorities”(2)

The picture shows the current situation of Gaza . Photo courtesy ICRC

“For many years, on both sides of the Gaza Wall, men, women and children, both men and women, have suffered psychological shocks caused by the vicious circle of fear and destruction. Each new round of hostilities will aggravate The trauma of the people.” Mardini also said after visiting Gaza, “In communicating with the local people, I can feel that they are full of deep exhaustion, despair and helplessness for the future of the younger generation.”

The second “priority” is to properly dispose of unexploded ordnance. After the conflict, unexploded ordnance still poses a threat to the lives of local people. Zakut said that the ICRC has set up a “weapon decontamination” project in conflict areas. The project has been operating in Gaza since 2014. By providing equipment, technical support and training, it supports the local government to properly dispose of unexploded ordnance in accordance with relevant procedures. So that the local people can return to their homes as soon as possible and start reconstruction work. During the conflict, the ICRC also popularized weapon knowledge and raised people’s awareness of weapon hazards and self-protection through the most accessible forms of local people, such as mobile phone text messages and radio.

The third “priority” is to start reconstruction as soon as possible. According to Zakut, the local government and international institutions such as the ICRC are currently assessing the losses caused by the conflict, and accurate figures have not yet been obtained. She emphasized that the Gaza region is undergoing a cycle of “destruction and reconstruction”. It has never been completely reconstructed, and people’s lives have never been completely restored. “It is too early to judge the cost and time frame required for reconstruction. It may take several counts. Time of year”.

According to the latest ICRC announcement, the Gaza Working Group is currently assisting families who have lost their homes and lack of water and electricity to restore their lives, provide support for the restoration of large-scale infrastructure such as water supply and power grids, and focus on long-term mental health support needs “Healing Wounds” project. “What we have to do is not only to rebuild the destroyed infrastructure, but also to rebuild the fragmented life and bring hope to people again.” Zakut said.

The ICRC particularly emphasized that humanitarian assistance cannot prevent conflicts from happening, and only rely on political solutions. “We welcome the ceasefire and hope that the ceasefire will continue,” Zakut said. “The local government, Palestine and Israel, and all parties involved are all responsible for investigating the root cause of the problem and proposing a political solution that will help Gaza’s reconstruction.” The ICRC firmly reaffirms the importance of international humanitarian law. This conflict will not be resolved by reading the Fourth Geneva Convention. However, on this increasingly long and painful road to peace, if all parties can abide by their basic principles Obligation, it would be a good start. (End)