2019 marks 12 years of the blockade on Gaza, which affects every aspect of life for the almost 2 million Palestinians living in the strip who are unable to leave the territory, and 75% of whom are internally displaced refugees. In addition to the siege, Israel has launched three major military operations on the besieged territory since 2008. The most recent, and deadly, operation took place in 2014 and killed over 2,200 Palestinians, including 500 children, and left many more thousands with life changing injuries. These bombing campaigns and the ongoing blockade have crippled Gaza’s economy and the freedoms of the Palestinians living there, have caused widespread destruction and left the population to suffer from shortages in essentials like food, water, electricity and medical care. As of 2018, 96% of the water in Gaza was undrinkable and electricity supply was reduced from 8 to 4 hours per day.
With up to 50% of the population under the age of 18, children are disproportionately impacted by the dire situation in Gaza. An entire generation of Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip suffer from both physical conditions and life changing injuries, as well as mental health disorders as a result of desperate living conditions and repeated exposure to war and violence. The lack of access to adequate health services in Gaza has resulted in thousands of children in need of specialized care that they cannot get locally.
Cycling4Gaza is back for its 11th annual cycle. This year, we are Cycling4Freedoms and we are delighted to once again be teaming up with the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF), who have been providing free medical care for children for over 25 years.
Cycling4Freedoms will focus on Freedom of movement and Freedom to access healthcare, both of which are enshrined in the United Nation’s 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as stipulated in Article 13 and 25 respectively. The lack of freedom of movement experienced by the people of Gaza takes many forms, and curtails people’s freedom to access healthcare in a number of ways:
-Doctors and patients are not free to leave or enter Gaza without permits, which are frequently rejected and which take a long time to issue if approved
-Medications, as well as medical equipment and supplies cannot move freely in and out of the territory, which has caused a crisis in healthcare provision in Gaza
We aim to address these issues and raise awareness in partnership with the PCRF by sponsoring the following projects:
1.Sending injured and sick children abroad for free medical care
2. Sponsoring medical missions to provide treatment in Gaza
3. Sponsoring physical therapy for children with Cerebral Palsy in Northern Gaza
4. Training for doctors and nurses in Paediatric Cancer Care abroad
These projects aim to circumvent the lack of freedoms imposed by the Israeli siege on Gaza by providing the opportunity for patients, doctors, nurses and much needed medical supplies to move in and out of the territory in order to improve the healthcare provision and treatment options for the sick and injured children of Gaza. The projects also aim to provide expert training to local doctors in areas where there is a deficiency in the local healthcare system, as well as expert medical care in subspecialties that do not currently exist in Gaza. By providing free medical care to these children, the PCRF helps to reduce the financial burden on families caring for sick and injured children. Hospitals in Gaza are suffering a dire shortage of medical supplies and equipment as a direct result of the blockade which restricts the freedom of movement of goods in and out of Gaza. These projects hope to provide much needed medical equipment and supplies to hospitals to limit their reliance on external provision, and to work towards ensuring that the children of Gaza have the freedom to access healthcare locally. By working with international teams of doctors and nurses, and by sending children abroad for treatment, these projects bring awareness of the situation in Gaza to communities around the world.
Supporting these project through sponsorship has the potential to positively impact the lives of around 1,500 children directly, with many times more that will benefit over the long-term. This will be achieved by providing life-saving and life changing treatments to those most in need, by training over 30 medical practitioners, and by putting in place the infrastructure, expertise and resources necessary to create a sustainable, effective healthcare provision that is tailored to the needs of the population in Gaza.