17 February 2017
“I hope we can provide adequate services, particularly health services, for all and overcome the challenges of the occupation.“
Sumaya Nimer is a Palestinian nurse, who works as the coordinator for the mobile clinic which MAP supports to provide healthcare for Bedouin Communities in the West Bank.
The clinic serves 24 communities in the Jordan Valley, a region in Area C of the West Bank where Israel maintains full civil and military control. Living here puts Bedouin at the sharp end of occupation: UN figures have shown that 50% of Bedouin families lack access to water, 41% have no source of electricity and 84% cannot afford the transport costs to access health and education.
Bedouin also suffer from high rates of malnutrition and elevated rates of accidents and hygiene-related hazards. The mobile clinic provides these communities with vital primary healthcare and offers health awareness sessions and hygiene kits to families
Israel’s occupation and illegal settlements are further isolating communities served by the mobile health clinic, limiting their access to vital primary healthcare. This is demonstrated by the example of the Ara’rah community. An Israeli settlement nearby to Ara’rah installed a fence in 2016 between the Bedouin community and the highway, the only accessible road to the community. The mobile health clinic is unable to provide essential health services if settlers decide to close the fence.
June this year will mark half a century of Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian territory. For Palestinians, this means dealing with constant restrictions to their basic rights and freedoms.
We spoke to Sumaya about why she is demanding health and dignity for Palestinians. She told us that she first chose to study nursing due to a sad personal loss she experienced as a child:
“When I was at school I failed to rescue one of my dearest friends who died in front of my eyes as I didn't know how to help her as I was not a qualified nurse back then.”
She has carried this motivation into her work today:
“I work in this field to promote health and safety for all people and to help those who need treatment. I wish all patients a speedy recovery and a healthy life.”
The occupation is a persistent barrier to this vision. The health of Palestinians is challenged by restrictions on movement, difficulties of accessing healthcare, and the risk of death or injury in conflict or settler attacks.
But Sumaya is hopeful that the future could be different.
"I hope we can provide adequate services for all, particularly health services, and that we can overcome the challenges of the occupation.”
Throughout 2017 MAP is joining Palestinians like Sumaya to demand health and dignity for Palestinians. Through our campaign, launched this year, we are urging governments like the UK to place pressure on Israel to remove the obstacles undermining Palestinian access to vital healthcare, including ending the occupation of Palestinian territory.
To do this, we need your help. Please join Sumaya and demand health and dignity for Palestinians today: