More than two million people live in the Gaza Strip: there is only one mental health hospital, with a capacity of fifty beds, to serve the five governorates in the Strip.For his part, Dr. Sami Owaida of the Gaza Mental Health Program attributed the psychological challenges faced by the residents of the Gaza Strip to the Israeli occupation and blockade of the Strip, which has lasted for over 15 years. “More than 65 percent of the population of Gaza live below the poverty line, and more than 60 percent are unemployed.”
A heavy toll on children
“The conflict in May 2021 [in which much of Gaza City was destroyed, and hundreds were killed or injured], led to a psychological shock, on top of dealing with electricity and water cuts, high rates of poverty, and unemployment – all factors that led to the deterioration of the already worsening health and psychological situation of the residents of Gaza”.
Briefing the Security Council on 8 August, Tor Wennesland, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, reported that 46 Palestinians had been killed and 360 injured, and 70 Israelis injured.
“For many children, this was their fifth conflict in the past 15 years. Many are already living with the long-term psychological effects of constant exposure to violence” noted Ms. Khodr.
Living ‘in a state of frustration and psychological deterioration’
After visiting a family in Gaza whose house was severely damaged in the conflict, Lynne Hastings, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, said that “the humanitarian situation in Gaza is already deteriorating, and this latest escalation will only make matters worse. We stand ready to work with all parties to ensure that humanitarian needs are met.”