Child malnutrition remains high in West Bank and Gaza

Most aid organizations remain focused on temporary, short-term solutions rather than the underlying problems of food insecurity.

(Suhair Karam / IRIN)

JERUSALEM (IRIN) – At a glance, the latest data on food security in the West Bank and Gaza Strip — released by the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Programme and the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) in July — seems to warrant optimism.

The year 2011 was the second straight year in which the number of those living in food insecurity declined in the West Bank and Gaza. In the Gaza Strip, the percentage dropped from 60 in 2009 to 44 in 2011; in the West Bank, food insecurity rates have decreased 5 percent in the same two-year period to 17 percent.

But, as UNRWA itself admits, a deeper look into the numbers is less encouraging.

In the West Bank, Palestinians who live in refugee camps have actually experienced a rise in food insecurity — from 25 percent in 2009 to 29 percent in 2011. One quarter of Palestinian households in Israeli-controlled Area C are food insecure — 8 percent more than the West Bank average. Herders’ families in Area C (which covers more than 60 percent of the West Bank) are in a precarious situation, with 34 percent suffering from food insecurity.

And while food insecurity stands at just under 30 percent in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip combined, the World Health Organization reported in May 2012 that 50 percent of infants and children under two in the West Bank and Gaza have iron deficiency anemia. According to the same WHO report, malnutrition and stunting in children under five “is not improving” and could actually be “deteriorating” (“Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory” [PDF]).

Dramatic changes

The second intifada saw dramatic changes in Palestinians’ eating habits. Israeli-imposed movement restrictions on both people and goods strangled the economy; Palestinians’ inability to access farmland due to Israeli prohibitions and the construction of Israel’s wall in the West Bank led to reduced agricultural output. Under these pressures, Palestinians increasingly came to rely on cereals, pulses, potatoes, vegetable oil and sugar rather than more costly and more nutritious foods like protein-rich fish and meat, fresh fruits and vegetables.

In 2003, at the height of the second intifada, the Food and Agriculture Organization reported that meals in the West Bank and Gaza Strip often consisted of just tea and bread. Despite these dire circumstances, the FAO did not recommend increased food aid. Instead, the organization stated that the most pressing issue, economic access — or the ability to buy food — must be addressed. In the short term, that meant job creation; in the long term, it meant investment in agriculture.

Yet, almost a decade later, critics say that most aid organizations remain focused on temporary, short-term solutions rather than the underlying problems.

Decline in agriculture

Haneen Ghazawneh, a researcher at the Palestinian Economic Policy Research Institute (MAS) in Ramallah, said international aid was still “going [more] to emergency assistance and food aid and less to development projects,” contributing to “the decline in agriculture.”

Ghazawneh also takes issue with the latest food security data.

“When we talk about economic access [to food] that means having permanent jobs,” she explained. “My worry about these recent reports is that they exclude East Jerusalem, [where] people have very limited [work opportunities].”

She also said the apparent gains in parts of the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority is nominally in control of many affairs, may be illusory.

In the West Bank, many of those who are food secure are on the PA payroll, said Ghazawneh. But much of the PA’s funding comes from foreign aid, leaving employees vulnerable to changes in the political climate and the global economy — as was the case in July, when the PA could pay only half of employees’ salaries.

“We’re talking about the workers who are the most secure, who have permanent jobs, and they are uncertain,” she said. “The situation is not sustainable at all.”

As many Palestinians have increasingly embraced a culture of consumption and debt, some have bought houses and cars they cannot afford. If salaries suddenly stop coming and people fall behind on their loan payments, the banks could have problems. And this, perhaps, could fuel a larger financial crisis that would have an impact on food security.

This item comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian news and information service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. All IRIN material may be reposted or reprinted free-of-charge; refer to the copyright page for conditions of use. IRIN is a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.



Photography

Ministery declares state of emergency – Photography
Gaza Health Care in Crisis – January 2012 – Photography



Articles 55 and 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention clearly establish that Israel, as the occupying power, not only has a duty to ensure medical supplies reach hospitals in the OPT, but to ensure and maintain the services of the hospitals too. As High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions, other states not only have a moral duty but also a legal obligation to ensure Israel abides by its commitments to the protected population of the OPT.

UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, As a States Party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Israel is obliged under Article 24 of the treaty to recognise the right of every child under its effective jurisdiction “to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health. States Parties shall strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to such health care services”.


Update as per June 3, 2012


  • June 14, 2012 | WHO: Gaza closure compromises right to health | Maan
  • May 29, 2012 | Fuel Crisis Impacts Water and Sanitation & Health Services in Gaza | Source
  • May 20, 2012 | “Long and Healthy Lives” of Babies in Danger as Vaccins are Depleted | Alert
  • May 18, 2012 | Lives of more than 400 kidney patients at risk in Gaza | Source

note occpal | June 3, 2012 | At this moment 204 types of medication and 218 types of medical consumables are depleted completely. 200 others are on their way to depletion. Including zero stock of Thalassamia and Cancer medications are not available.

The fuel crisis prevents normal operation of nurseries, ICU & heart units and the emergency generators will encounter problems to face normal surgery schedules. Due to blackouts of power, also sewerage, water pumps and all operating on power shuts down which poses extra health risks which is unacceptable.

The international community though, is not pressuring Israel though about it’s killing by proxy policies which causes 1.7 million people in Gaza now to be effectively in a state of emergency and severe deprivation.


More Resources or related information:


  • June 9, 2012 | Gaza health ministry cautions over 450 medical items running out | Petra Jordan News Agency
  • Over 173 Children died due 2 obstructed healthcare: Report Al-Mezan
  • Download the Full Report of Al-Mezan (PDF)
  • Palestinian deaths following infringement of right to medical treatment – B’ TselemReport
  • 35 babies died at Israeli checkpoints – Report
  • Israel Kills Dialysis in Gaza – 450 Patients Lives Are In DangerReport
  • Dialysis in Paralysis | Electronic IntifadaReport
  • Factsheet on Gazan Children’s Access to Medical Care – Al Mezan | 173 children diedReport
  • UK Diplomat wife dies after forced to renew Jerusalem permitReport
  • 2 Children & Lives of Dozens of Others Endangered Israel’s Infringement of Medical CareReport
  • Infant close 2 death as Israel denies medicationReport
  • Starve Them – Shoot Them – Then Give Them CancerReport
  • PUT PALESTINIANS ON A DIET – Media Bury documents revealing israel’s deliberate policy of near starvation for GazaReport
  • Israel to Supreme Court to prevent exposure of document containing minimal calorie requirements for Gaza – May1, 2011Report
  • Israel Restricts the Access of Gaza Patients to Urgent Medical Treatment if their Condition is Not Life-Threatening | In violation of Medical Ethics and International Law | Al Mezan | June 30, 2010Report
  • Children and Armed Conflict: Developments in the OPT | UN | April 13, 2010Report
  • Water apartheid leaves Palestinian children ill | Report



Medical care by asked/forced collaboration

  • Palestinians hoping to leave Gaza Strip asked to collaborate with Israel – PHR Isael – Dec 28, 2011Report



Torture, Healthcare or neglect of healthcare in Prisons

  • UFree: Israeli doctors conceal torture incidents in Israeli jails | UFree Report
  • Doctoring the Evidence Abandoning the Victim – Complicity of Israeli physicians in torture – PHRReport

Video

  • Gaza Siege devastates Health care – Jan 2, 2011video
  • Avoidable Death of Pregnant women & their Unborn at Israeli Checkpointsvideo
  • If you have no idea about avoidable mortality by Israel’s deliberate policies: Meet BABY FIRASvideo

SHOCKING REPORT ABOUT EFFECTS FOR HEALTH BY POLICIES & DISCRIMINATION OF MEDICAL CARE & ACCESS TO CARE:

  • Arab-Palestinian Citizens of Israel: Discrimination in Access to Health; Lower Health – PHR – Report

While in the horrible holocaust, 1 in 6, so 1 million people died of the Nazi but exactly similar deliberate deprivation, Israel is doing exactly the same to Palestinians. Research (see link below) showed the annual deathrate by violent & passive aggression is about 5000 deaths a year. Called Avoidable mortality or Excess Death.
The Palestinian Genocide – The fact which are being silenced | Research


Special Topics


In pictures

Children of Palestine – in photos (Click to see the full album)

More pictures in the Gallery Images | الصور

How many more dead corpses of Palestinians and their children does the international community need to see in order to act?
How many more cruelties and violations of Human Rights, Regulations and International Law will be needed?
How long so the world intervenes in this ongoing warcrime and it will be stopped once and for all?

For the sake of children and ill people in Palestine, share this post as wide as you can and keep sharing it. Health is no choice for many, right to medical care is a Human Right. Infringement of such is a passive form of aggression which policies Israel deliberately deploys with the intention to ethnic cleanse.



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