Trapped in Gaza

Leaving Gaza to start academic courses around the world is no easy task for Palestinians.

Recently MAP heard of several cases of students looking to study medicine or health-related courses outside of Gaza, but who were denied the necessary permissions or visas they needed to travel by Israel, Egypt, Jordan and even the UK.

Six students were accepted to universities in the UK and another nineteen were looking forward to starting study at the Jordanian University of Amman. Sadly, none of them got the permits they needed. 

We spoke to these students to hear how the closure of Gaza and restrictions to the right to movement are undermining their ability to access the educational opportunities they seek.

In this blog we’ve protected their identities to guard against future difficulties with travel.

 

Student A

"I was accepted at Istanbul university to study orthopedic surgery from July and then was looking forward to attending a course in urology and at the university of Jordan later in the year.

I received my visa to Turkey at the start of July but before that the Rafah border crossing (with Egypt) was closed because of the unfair siege on Gaza. This was the major cause of being unable to travel to study outside Gaza.

This was depressing for me and my friends to be stuck here, especially after at least one year of working to have this chance, and I’m worried about my future and my chances of getting a post-graduate degree.

My main goal was to take this opportunity outside Gaza to broaden my knowledge, skills and expertise on health systems abroad.

My main goal was to take this opportunity outside Gaza to broaden my knowledge, skills and expertise on health systems abroad.

We still hope to have our right to travel freely without any restrictions toward our dreams."

 

Student B

"I was planning to leave Gaza to do an elective course in UK and had chosen Queen’s Hospital to improve my experience and gain more skills in my clinical training including communication with different types of patients and to bring back what I’d learnt to hospitals in my country.

I then received a letter from the United Kingdom which rejected my visa application without clarifying the reasons.

I was filled with a sense of despair when I heard I was not able to leave my country. I had spent a lot of time just to get onto the elective at Queen’s hospital, but all of these hopes were gone within a moment.

I had spent a lot of time just to get onto the elective ... but all of these hopes were gone within a moment.

There are many people responsible for these difficulties including those responsible for visa application assessment in UK and persons responsible for crossing points to leave Gaza and those includes Israeli forces and the Jordanian government when you want leave through Erez crossing and Egyptian government when you want to leave through Rafah crossing.

This is not special for me as it’s the feeling of hundreds of students in Gaza who want to study outside Gaza but they cannot do.

It is the feeling of sadness and hopelessness.

I hope to complete the final year of my study and to one day leave my country to specialise in neurosurgery then come back to Gaza with more benefits for people and to be a great doctor."

 

Student C

"We were hoping to travel to do a rotation in general surgery at the University of Malaysia as the elective course is obligatory course to finish the fifth year in the medical school of the Islamic University of Gaza.

However, I received a text message saying that my application to the Jordanian Embassy for a transit visa had been refused and we learned that travelling across Rafah border is out of the question a long time ago.

I was upset because it took me a lot of work to get myself accepted to do my training there in Malaysia and also I lost all the money I paid for the visa application.

I hope someday the siege will be brought to an end so we can travel freely around the world.

As a medical student, this is the most depressing experience I could ever have, to be unable to develop myself by travelling, doing rotations, courses, and research outside the country, participating in international conferences, making the career moves I prefer, and not feeling coerced to change my plans because I have no choice.

I hope someday the siege will be brought to an end so we can travel freely around the world."

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