Temporary relief as Gaza’s electricity partially increased

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) welcomes the news that on 7 January 2018, Israel began to resupply Gaza with 50 megawatts (MW) of power.

The restoration of power to the levels as they were before June 2017 will partially ease the severe suffering of Gaza’s two million residents. However, even with this increase Gaza will only receive or generate about 210 MWs of power daily, less than half of the daily required level.

Last year saw the humanitarian situation in Gaza reach its lowest ebb outside of periods of military offensive. Severe electricity shortages left some parts of Gaza with daily blackouts of 18-20 hours and many homes received just two hours of mains electricity per day. Energy fluctuations particularly affected healthcare, with hospitals reliant on generators, resulting in 150 medical machines damaged, and difficulty in the ability to collect, store and transport blood.

Whilst the move to restore electricity is welcomed, electricity levels are far below what is needed. UN experts noted that Gaza requires between 450 and 500 MWs of electricity daily for a fully functioning economy and society.

“We call upon all the responsible parties – Israel, the Palestinian Authority, as well the authorities in Gaza – to restore the conditions to allow a full supply of electricity to all Gazans. We also urge Israel, the occupying power, to end its decade-long blockade of Gaza.”
- Professor Michael Lynk, the UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in the Palestinian territories

Living standards in Gaza have been declining since Israel’s imposition of a blockade and closure in 2007, and the healthcare system continues to be affected by severe electricity shortages, medical shortages and barriers to medical referral, creating a humanitarian emergency in Gaza. According to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, in December 2017, 44% of essential medicines and 28% of medical disposables were at ‘zero stock’, meaning that less than a month’s supply was available on shelves. In 2017, the average percentage of essential medicines that were at zero stock were 38%.

MAP continues to be very concerned about the humanitarian situation in Gaza, and in particular its effects on healthcare and patients. There is much more that still needs to be done. Governments, including the UK, must work to ensure that international humanitarian law is strictly adhered to in the oPt, including helping to end Israel’s 11-year closure of Gaza.

MAP’s work

Amid the ongoing emergency, MAP continues its vital work. In Gaza, one problem is the huge shortage in lab-reagents that are crucial in blood banks to perform safety tests on blood donations. MAP supports the blood bank at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, with some of the crucial reagents required to perform this vital work. These include HIV and Hepatitis test kits, as well kits to test blood groups. Recently, MAP was able to donate 18 kits and 42 testers to the blood bank unit at Al-Shifa Hospital. MAP is also donating $60,000 and procuring supplies for 2018, which will ensure the unit will be able to perform its work for another year.

Take action

Please help us call on the UK to raise Palestinians’ right to health at Israel’s upcoming Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council in January.

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