"For the first time we feel we are helpless". A message from women's rights advocates in Gaza

Jane Gabriel
6 February 2008

Afaf Jabiri wrote from Jordan about honouring Mahfoutha Shtayyeh from Palestine in the 50.50 blog 16 Days Against Gender Violence. This week women's rights advocates working with Karama in Palestine www.elkarama.org have issued a statement about the living conditions in Gaza:

"This the most difficult period we have ever experienced. They are targeting the basic needs of us. What we are asking for is not luxury material but the most basic of the basics to live humanely. Injured people have no hope of survival--if injured, there is no means to reach the hospital, and if they reach the hospital, then there is not any medicine for treatment. Women and children are the most affected of all by what's happening: children have not been able to take their needed vaccines and medical check-ups for months, and women face serious danger giving birth in people's houses without any medical observation.

Women's organizations have run out of paper, ink, pens--and there is no means of communications with their colleagues in other parts of Palestine, nor with women in Gaza. For the first time,we feel we are helpless, and we cannot offer women we work with anything.

As women in Palestine we are very concerned about the international community's response to the siege we have been under for years. We should not have to die so the world will see us, but what's happening is more than death and killing, it's a genocide.

"We are extremely concerned about the impactof this blockade on civilians in Gaza, especially women and children," said Hibaaq Osman, founder and Chair of Karama, from Egypt today. "It is criminal that Palestinian civilians are dying deaths that could have been prevented if there were not the blockade and the border closures Israelenacted because they want to punish Hamas."

Israel should immediately allow the unrestricted passage of goods to resume to the Gaza Strip, particularly foodstuffs, medicine and humanitarian supplies. The blockade violates the basic right of Gazan women, men and children to a standard of living that is adequate to ensure health and well-being, including food, clothing, housing and medical care. Moreover, the most detrimental impactof this collective punishment will likely be on the most vulnerable groups--children, pregnant women, the sick and the elderly.

Israel's closure of Gaza's borders in June 2007 alreadyled to the deaths of several seriously ill patients who were denied the rightto leave and seek medical care abroad, while others have lost limbs as a resultof Israel's policy to allow only patients with life-threatening conditions to enter Israel for medical care.

The UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs has acknowledged that the current humanitarian situation in Gaza is extremely worrying and fragile. Given Gaza's already precarious balance, Karama fears that the isolated easing of restrictions on certain goods will not be enough to prevent the situation from developing quickly into a full-blown humanitarian emergency.

"We do not want support in the form of bread, but rather we want support that looks at us as humans. For years we have been under siege and threat of death and all we need is to continue living with dignity. Our issue is not just humanitarian, it's political--and the core principle of it is respect for the human rights of people and their right to self-determination."

Manal Awad, the Palestinian Program for Women's Support

Karama is a movement striving to eliminate violence against women across the Arab world. Its membership comprises women activists and leaders from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine.

Organization Name Arab Women Organization Of Jordan /Jordan Laila Hamarneh The Jordanian Human Forum For Women /Jordan Emili Naffa AL-Joud /Jordan Rama Ishaq Women Advocate /Jordan Suad Abu-Dayyeh Women Advocate /Jordan Amani AL-Khatib Women Advocate/Jordan Masyon Hassouneh Women Advocate/ Jordan Ala' Husseini Transtec Laura Mascagna SOS Femme en detresse Algerian /Algeria Sabrina Ouared MEDAL /Jordan Rana Al Akhal Jordan Forum For Business & professional Women / Jordan Rania Khatib Association Najdeh / Lebanon Leila Al Ali KAFA (enough) Violence & Exploitation / Lebanon Ghida Anani Association Epanouissement Feminine /Morocco Touria Al-Oumari The Egyptian Form For NGOs /Egypt Amal Mahomoud Association Najdeh / Lebanon Aziza Khaldi Siha Network / Sudan Maymona Elshiekh The Tunisian Society For Research And Development. Tunisia Monia Abed The Moroccoan Society for Ressissting VAW / Morocco Saadia Wadah Arab Institute For Human Rights / Lebanon Joumana Merhi Syrian Women's league / Syria Sabah Hallaq Al Moutawinat group / Sudan Samia AL-Hashmi New Women Research Center/ Egypt Azza Kamal Arab Women's Investors /Sudan Rugaia Abd AL-Gadar The Egyptian Society for Women and Family / Sudan Halla Abd AL-Gader EACPE / Egypt Afaf Merei Heya / Egypt Afaf AL-Sayed The Lebanese Women Democratic Gathering   Center For Egyptian Women' s Legal Assistance / Egypt Hadeel KAFA (enough) Violence & Exploitation /Lebanon Zoya Rouhana KAFA (enough) Violence & Exploitation/ Lebanon Leila Awada KAFA (enough) Violence & Exploitation/ Lebanon Ghada JAbbour KAFA (enough) Violence & Exploitation Lebanon / Jika Kesserwani KAFA (enough) Violence & Exploitation Lebanon / Racha Moumneh KAFA (enough) Violence & Exploitation/ Lebanon Hanan Yassin KAFA (enough) Violence & Exploitation/ Lebanon Madeleine Bou Ammar KAFA (enough) Violence & Exploitation / Lebanon Faten Abou Chakra KAFA (enough) Violence & Exploitation Lebanon / Nermine El Horr KAFA (enough) Violence & Exploitation/ Lebanon Sawsan Khanafer KAFA (enough) Violence & Exploitation/ Lebanon Faysa Abed El Rahman Women in Communication / Algeria Nafissa Lahrache Eve Centre for Counseling/ Morocco Zakia Charmo The Tunisian Center for research and development / Tunisia Fatiha Saidi The centre for women's issues and support / Palestine Siham Bargouthi Jordanian Society for protection of violence /Jordan Isra' Tawalbeh Karama / Jordan Afaf Jabiri Karama / Egypt Hibaaq Osman The Arab Human Rights Organization /Jordan Fatima Al Dabbas The Tunisian Society for research and development /Tunisia Souad Triki Ummy Society/ Egypt Mervet Abuteig Jordanian Women Union (JWU)/ Jordan Mokaram Oddeh The Cultural Forum for Blind women / Jordan Friyal Al Rabady The Young Women Christian Association / Jordan Muna Makhamreh Women organization to Combat Illiteracy / Jordan Asma Mdanat Haq Association Hinzad Al Tall Nama' Association / Jordan Hanaya Al Nahas    




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