Ireland boosts response to COVID-19 in the Gaza Strip

Oxfam Ireland is increasing its funding to the Gaza Strip to help with the coronavirus pandemic. ...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

16.32 7 Apr 2020

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Ireland boosts response to COV...

Ireland boosts response to COVID-19 in the Gaza Strip

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

16.32 7 Apr 2020

Share this article

Oxfam Ireland is increasing its funding to the Gaza Strip to help with the coronavirus pandemic.

The Palestinian Authority declared a state of emergency there on March 5th in response to the first cases of the virus.

The Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated areas of the world, with two million people living there.


For this reason, the risk of transmission is seen as unavoidably high.

As of April 6th, there were 246 confirmed cases in the Occupied Palestinian Territory - with further testing in progress.

With support from the Government and Irish Aid, Oxfam has mobilised teams to respond to the threat of COVID-19 and the process of procuring and delivering essential supplies.

Colm Byrne is humanitarian manager with Oxfam Ireland.

He said: "Our immediate priority is to reduce the risk of COVID-19 rapidly spreading among vulnerable communities in the Gaza Strip.

"To do this, it is critical to ensure quarantine centres have sufficient water and sanitation systems and are stocked with essential medical supplies.

"It’s also critical to carry out life-saving hygiene promotion in the communities we work with."

The charity is working with Irish Aid to use the Emergency Response Fund Scheme (ERFS) to release €125,000, which supports critical humanitarian responses.

With the ERFS, Ireland pre-positions funds with participating non-governmental organisations (NGOs) at the beginning of the year so they can respond quickly.

The emergency grant will support schools, which are now being used as quarantine centres, as well as protective equipment for critical frontline staff in health care facilities.

Hygiene kits will also be distributed.

Gaza A Palestinian youth dressed as a clown, while wearing a protective gloves and a mask, staged a street performance to entertain children trapped at home in Khan Yunis, southern Gaza Strip | Image: SOPA Images/SIPA USA/PA Images

Mr Byrne added: "This crisis has highlighted our interconnectedness - how easily all of our lives can be disrupted or threatened, and how we cannot say we are safe if that is not true for all of us, especially those most at-risk among us.

"If we cannot offer a helping hand and solidarity with the most vulnerable during this global crisis, we go against our undeniable interconnectedness as people."

Mohammed Amma is Oxfam’s programme manager in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel.

He said: "People in confinement around the world are experiencing what it means to be Palestinian, to live under lockdown and movement restriction.

"There is a lot of empathy and we can only hope some good will come out of this once the storm has passed.”

"We are bracing ourselves for the worst. Hospitals and clinics face incredible challenges such as electricity, water, and equipment shortages due to very fragile conditions.

"There is an inadequate amount of Intensive Care Unit beds and ventilators for the population of two million in Gaza.

"More funds are urgently needed to respond to the worst-case scenario of a major outbreak that would bring Gaza’s health system to its knees."

Last week, the Irish Government announced €10m in funding to the UN’s Global Humanitarian Response Plan to the coronavirus.

This plan will help particularly vulnerable countries in their responses.

Main image: Palestinian physicians attend to a man during a drill for treating COVID-19 infections at the European Gaza Hospital in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis | Image: Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua

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Colm Byrne Covid-19 Gaza Strip Global Humanitarian Response Plan Israel Mohammed Amma Occupied Palestinian Territory Palestine Palestinian Authority UN

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