Live After Quit

. ‘No Place to Call Home: The Fight for Dignity of Disabled Palestinians in Gaza’.

With a population of 1.9 million, Gaza is a densely populated coastal strip located on the Mediterranean Sea in the Middle East. It is also an area plagued by a complex ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people, resulting in severe political, economic and social instability and poverty. Shockingly, amongst this already vulnerable group of people, the disabled face the most precarious of circumstances. The 2018 Palestinian disability survey reported that in 376 of the 530 participating households, at least one member had some kind of disability. This represented nearly half of the population included in the study. The survey also found that two-thirds of these disabled households were living in poverty, meaning that the disabled were approximately 2.5 times more likely to be living below the poverty line compared to the average household in Gaza. Inability to access necessary education, healthcare, housing, employment and public transportation have had devastating consequences for Gazans living with disabilities. Many are lacking in basic services and assistance, leading to high levels of mental and physical distress among this group. Education services provided at both primary and secondary school levels are severely limited, with almost 40% of the disabled population not attending either. Many of those enrolled in school experience limited educational outcomes due to a lack of necessary accommodations, such as specialized transportation or classroom aides. This lack of access leads to a further exacerbation of the overall, already problematic poverty rates among the disabled. The lack of appropriate healthcare is another major issue presented by these conditions. Pregnant women and newborns with disabilities are not receiving the support they need, such as specialized birth-services, equipment and medications. Moreover, as the majority of disabled households are already living in poverty, the lack of free public healthcare can be prohibitively expensive, and in some cases, not even accessible. Unfortunately, these issues are further compounded by entrenched social stigma around disabilities in Gaza. Unfortunately, many disabled Palestinians are not only denied life necessities, but often experience immense social exclusion and discrimination from their families and wider communities. Consequently, they are at higher risk of being subjected to abuse and may not be able to access important support infrastructure if needed. All in all, the disabled in Gaza are facing some of the most severe human rights abuses in the world. This is a population that is increasingly looked upon with contempt and suspicion, and is largely deprived of the basic human necessities. A population that is struggling despairingly to survive in an incredibly hostile and repressive political and socioeconomic environment. Until and unless the underlying root causes of these issues are addressed and accessible provisions are put in place, this population of disabled Palestinians in Gaza will continue to suffer.