At least 21 Palestinians killed in Gaza refugee camp fire

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) is deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic death of at least 21 Palestinians, including 10 children, following a fire in a residential building in Gaza’s Jabalia refugee camp last night.

While investigations are ongoing into the cause, news reports suggest that large amounts of gasoline had been stored in the building, fueling a fire that erupted after candles were lit during a birthday celebration.

Israel’s 15-year illegal closure and blockade limits the amount of fuel for Gaza’s only power plant, affecting all aspects of people’s daily lives. With power outages of up to 12 hours per day, many families must rely on generators for electricity, gas burners for heating and cooling, and candles for light, making fires a frequent occurrence.

According to media reports, firefighters in Gaza lacked essential items they needed to intervene effectively. Access to some lifesaving equipment for first responders is hampered by the blockade.

Jabalia is the largest refugee camp in Gaza, with its residents living in an area of only 1.4 square kilometres, making it one of the most densely populated places on Earth. Unsafe and overcrowded housing, particularly in the refugee camps, mean that when they occur, fires often spread rapidly and with deadly consequences.

“This is a tragic incident and our heartfelt condolences are with all of the victims and their families,” said Fikr Shalltoot, MAP’s Gaza Director. “The severe shortages of electricity we regularly experience here in Gaza, caused by Israel’s blockade, always increase the risks of fires breaking out and people becoming vulnerable to burns injuries – and, sadly, deaths.”

Research conducted by MAP and its partners found that Palestinians in Gaza are more than twice as likely to experience a burn injury than Palestinians in the West Bank. It also demonstrated that people living in refugee camps are most vulnerable to burns, and that women are at significantly higher risk than men, comprising 69% of reported injuries.

MAP has been supporting burns services in the occupied Palestinian territory since 2010, including supplying hospitals with essential medicines and disposables, renovating and upgrading burns units and training health workers. We have also developed national guidelines and protocols on burns care in Gaza and, this year, they were officially adopted by health providers.

You can read more about this vital work here.

Photo: People gather around the scene of a massive fire in Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza, November 17, 2022. (Credit: Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua/Alamy Live News).


#Gaza #Burns

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