A Year of Crises
Palestinians are facing one of the world's longest running military occupations in modern history. They face restrictions on movement, arbitrary arrests and numerous checkpoints in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, limiting their access to basic amenities. In the Gaza Strip, livelihoods and essential services have been decimated by 14 years of siege and people are denied many of their basic rights, including clean water, affordable healthcare, education and employment. There are now up to five generations of Palestinians facing refugeehood, in some of the most densely populated areas in the world.
It is within this context that Palestinians faced an unprecedent year of new crises. The Covid-19 pandemic coincided with an economic crisis in Lebanon, the Beirut explosion, further settlement expansion in the West Bank and a collapsing health sector in Gaza. 2020 was a year that intensified difficulties for Palestinians and devastated many lives.
Interpal's vision has always been to live in a world where Palestinians are able to achieve their basic human rights and live dignified lives, unencumbered by poverty. We continued to work towards this vision in 2020, and despite the increasing difficulties of working in a pandemic, we were able to make a positive impact for many. As we look forward to 2021, we reaffirm our commitment to supporting the most vulnerable across the occupied territories, Lebanon and Jordan. We are thankful for your ongoing generosity and we hope you will continue to show your support for Palestinians during these uncertain times.
When Pandemics Collide
Palestinians have faced a "pandemic of poverty" beyond their control for many years. In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the many ways in which poverty, refugeehood and a lack of access to basic rights, including healthcare and the freedom of movement, can intensify disadvantage during times of crisis.
Healthcare systems across the occupied Palestinian territories, Jordan and Lebanon are overwhelmed and ill-equipped to manage the Covid-19 pandemic, with the Gaza Strip's health sector close to collapse. Interpal's field offices have worked throughout the pandemic to provide essentials such as hygiene kits, fresh water and food packs to families across our areas of operation.
Emergency hygiene supplies and PPE were also delivered to hospitals and centres across our areas of operation, benefiting thousands of medical staff and patients.
Overcoming Challenges: Mahany's Story
"Adjusting to life with a disability is never easy. I have been blind since birth, but I have helped myself and overcome life's challenges. I am proud that in high school I received the highest grade overall with a GPA of 96.7%.
My disability has not defeated me; I have overcome all difficulties and built a rewarding life. I joined the Islamic University of Gaza and was awarded a scholarship that covers 70% of my tuition fees. My father is a taxi driver and is facing a lot of financial burdens. Despite this, he always insists that my brothers and I continue our university studies.
Interpal delivered braille university books to my home- I need these books for online learning while we are in quarantine. Having these books is very helpful, as I cannot learn without braille." - Mahany, aged 18.
During the pandemic, Interpal has been transporting kidney patients to their dialysis appointments and delivering education resources to students studying from home while in quarantine.
Disaster in Beirut
A huge explosion rocked the port in Beirut on 4th August 2020, destroying and damaging buildings and infrastructure across a very wide area of the Lebanese capital. At least 200 people were killed in the blast, and more than 6,000 injured. Hospitals at the time were already struggling to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic and were swamped by the casualties. Around 300,000 people were made homeless as a result of the explosion.
The explosion could not have happened at a worse time. Lebanon is experiencing its most serious economic crisis which, coupled with the Covid-19 pandemic, has brought the country to its knees.
The prices of basic necessities are beyond the reach of ordinary people unable to work due to the pandemic.
Interpal has worked in Lebanon for over 25 years and is deeply committed to supporting the most vulnerable in Lebanon.
In the aftermath of the explosion, Interpal delivered food and water to affected families and volunteers involved in the relief efforts. We are concerned for how this disaster has worsened an already difficult situation and are grateful to our field team and local partners for their ongoing work.
A Holy Duty
Before the onset of the Covid-19 crisis, one in three households in Gaza and the West Bank and more than half of Palestinian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon were food insecure.
As the crisis worsened across our areas of operation, poverty rates began to soar. High rates of unemployment caused by the pandemic have increased prices of basic food items and further reduced the purchasing power of families. Poverty rates are at least 80% in the Gaza Strip and 70% among refugees in Lebanon.
During these uncertain times, Ramadan and Eid Al Adha gave our donors the opportunity to fulfil their religious obligations while easing the burdens of Palestinian families. Our Ramadan programme provides financial aid, food parcels, food vouchers, Eid gifts and iftar meals. To mark the occasion of Eid Al Adha, we provided fresh meat for families and financial aid.
Respite in Ramadan
Ahmed, from the besieged Gaza Strip, has cerebral palsy and needs daily medication. Poverty, poor housing and disability have made it difficult for his mother to take care of him. We are so grateful to our donors for enabling us to deliver financial aid and food supplies to Ahmed and his family. This support offered this family some much needed respite in difficult times during the Ramadan of 2020.
Building Lasting Resilience
Interpal's Community Development Fund supports Palestinians in their efforts to build lasting resilience. The aim of the programme is to increase economic independence, and ensure that people have access to safe housing and employment opportunities.
Our Outreach Bus Programme has become a key fixture in Interpal's project portfolio for community development. It incorporates multi-dimensional aid by creating jobs for the drivers and encouraging institutions to consider accessibility and mobility of students, referring them to the service.
Against the backdrop of rising unemployment across all our areas of operation, our Job Creation Programme provides stable employment, on the job training and confidence building for people struggling to find work. During these uncertain times, injecting dynamic growth into local businesses and supporting individuals looking for work has never been more important.
A Display of Solidarity
"Businesses have been closed since the pandemic began, but people in the camps have been displaying solidarity with one another. Even if it means sharing just one piece of bread" - Nadia, from Ein El Hilweh refugee camp in Lebanon.
Poverty, refugeehood and violence impact children in very real and harmful ways. Many experience high levels of trauma and anxiety, and often speak of a sense of hopelessness and anxiety over what the future holds for them.
Children deserve safety, opportunities and access to services and support so they can become happy adults. They deserve the same resources and opportunities as others to reach their dreams. The generosity of our donors towards our children and education programmes helps us to provide vital support to Palestinian students in school and in university. We are able to provide children with a vital financial lifeline and, importantly, we ensure that they are able to have some support and respite in the face continued hardship.
Investing in Asmaa's Future
"I lost my father at a young age which has been really difficult for us as a family. I also have a medical condition which causes me constant pain. All I have ever wanted is to study though, and gain an education. I would like to thank Interpal's donors for helping me to pay my university fees and continue with my ambitions." - Asmaa, from the Gaza Strip.
A Vital Lifeline
Most Palestinians do not have safe and affordable access to medical treatment. Medical supplies are at critical levels in the occupied Palestinian territories and many hospitals and clinics are forced to re-use items and delay treatment. In the refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan, overcrowding and a shortage of services mean that medical supplies are limited. Interpal works in the occupied Palestinian territories and refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon to provide hospitals with essential medical aid.
Our donors enabled us to cover the costs of treatment for children and provide them with much needed supplies during lockdown. These acts of compassion not only help children heal but ease the minds of their parents and support the health care system.
The support of our donors has allowed us to provide artificial limbs and rehabilitation support to people like Karim. Improving the quality of life, mobility and well being of people with disabilities is vital and should not be prevented due to poverty or siege.
Our kind donors provided support for children with special medical conditions, including subsidising the cost of surgeries and vital hygiene supplies during the lockdown in Gaza. We are thankful that people remember Gaza and act to help.
Interpal was founded to provide humanitarian and development aid to Palestinians, and is a British registered charity working on the ground in the occupied Palestinian territories and refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan. The charity also provides support to refugees fleeing from violence in Syria. Interpal's aim has always been to alleviate the suffering and disadvantage faced by Palestinians through immediate relief and to support Palestinian society through long-term development programmes.