© Reuters

49 %

unemployment rate in Gaza


people in need of humanitarian assistance, including 1.6 million in Gaza and 882,000 in the West Bank


attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinian communities recorded

Forced to abandon their lands over 70 years ago, the Palestinians have been living under Israeli occupation for over 50 years. This tense situation is further aggravated by the blockade of the Gaza Strip. Médecins du Monde witnesses at close hand the difficulties the Palestinians face in their everyday lives, as we work to support healthcare facilities and to ensure access to healthcare and vital resources.


Between the blockade and poverty – desperate shortages of essential goods

The Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. There are 1.9 million people living there, including 1.3 million refugees, 70% of whom live in the 8 refugee camps.


Since 2007, an already complex situation has worsened, with the land, air and sea blockades imposed by Israel, the repeated military operations up to 2014 and the disproportionate repression of the Great March of Return in 2018.


The poverty rate among the people of the Gaza Strip has reached 53%, with around a third of the population living in extreme poverty. The shortage of medicines, supplies and equipment is an ongoing problem and reached record levels in 2019 when up to 50% of essential medicines were unavailable.


There is also a deplorable lack of properly equipped health centres, emergency units and ambulances. These alarming figures leave no room for doubt about the need for medical assistance in Palestine.


In 2021, six Palestinian NGOs were declared terrorist organisations by the Israeli government. This announcement has had a negative impact on the partnerships between these organisations and international NGOS and the donor community, restricting the services they provide to the Palestinian population. International NGOs, including Médecins du Monde, see this terrorist designation as part of Israeli government practice aimed at reducing the humanitarian space.


    Some cancer patients and people with chronic conditions need treatment which is not available in Gaza and have to be transferred. However, the number of exit permits granted to patients requiring urgent treatment outside Gaza has declined steadily, down to 44% in 2017. In 2018, 52 people died while they were waiting for an exit permit.


    The Covid-19 pandemic led to the existing restrictions being reinforced further, with Israel only allowing a few of the most urgent cases to leave the Gaza Strip to access care and treatment. Aside from these restrictions on leaving Gaza, access to basic healthcare is often impossible due to frequent power cuts.


    A humanitarian response and medical assistance are therefore crucial in Palestine.


    In the West Bank, particularly in the area around Nablus, people live in a constant state of tension due to the proximity of Israeli settlements. Children and young people are particularly at risk. Surrounded by a significant military presence, the Palestinians frequently have to endure searches and checkpoints.


    Some Israeli settlers regularly attack the Palestinian communities – harassment, beatings, stonings, shootings, damage to homes and destruction of crops are a common experience. The attacks by settlers have increased substantially in recent years and are carried out with complete impunity.


    These traumas come on top of the multiple forced displacements and demolitions of Palestinian homes by the Israeli occupation authorities (911 demolitions took place in the West Bank during 2021).


    2020 also saw the emergence of a new threat to the people of the West Bank in the form of Israel’s plan to annex parts of the Palestinian territories, in particular the northern part of the Jordan Valley and some Israeli settlements. Regarded as illegal in international law, this annexation appears to have been postponed for the moment, but nevertheless remains a threat to civilian populations.


    At the same time, it has led to an increased monopolisation of natural resources and land, as well as violence by the Israeli armed forces. All of this is intended to “prepare” the area for potential annexation. The uncertainty continues to have a serious psychological impact on the communities living in the area, especially the Bedouins who have experienced a rise in confiscations and destruction of their property.


    In May 2021, an escalation of violence in Gaza resulted in the death of 261 Palestinians over the course of 11 days, including 67 children and 41 women. Over 2,200 Palestinians were injured, among them 685 children and 480 women. There was serious damage to infrastructure, in particular to healthcare facilities. In the West Bank the number of Palestinians killed by the Israeli security forces also rose to 78, compared to 28 in 2020.


    The number of Palestinians injured by the Israeli armed forces has increased by 500% compared to 2020, with 15,525 injuries recorded in 2021 as opposed to 2,558 in 2020. A total of 894 Palestinian buildings were demolished in Area C and East Jerusalem compared to 846 in 2020. The numbers of attacks by Israeli settlers resulting in deaths and material damage has also risen, with 358 attacks in 2020 increasing to 496 in 2021. The Covid-19 epidemic, coupled with these violent incidents, has intensified the coercive environment and the vulnerability of the Palestinian communities in need of humanitarian assistance.


    The stress and other resulting mental health problems experienced by Palestinians only rarely receive treatment. Medical staff are poorly trained in identifying such conditions and the facilities to which sufferers can be referred are too few in number to meet the level of need. Furthermore, there is stigma around psychological and mental health problems and families do not automatically go to health centres for help with this type of illness.

© Olivier Papegnies


Médecins du Monde is working to integrate a mental health response into primary healthcare in Gaza and the West Bank.

Supporting healthcare staff and helping victims


    Médecins du Monde works in the Gaza Strip helping healthcare facilities prepare for emergencies and improve how they coordinate their activities. Healthcare staff also receive specific training in providing emergency humanitarian care. In emergency situations, directing victims to suitable facilities helps to alleviate the burden on overstretched hospitals and to improve the quality of primary care.


    Médecins du Monde also works with two Palestinian NGOs, the Culture and Free Thought Association and Al Ataa, to provide psychosocial support and mental healthcare for those affected. In addition, we develop approaches to care and treatment for mental health problems (including addressing stigmatisation) in hospitals and health centres.


    Over the last six years, this work has enabled a response to be provided in many cases of psychosocial problems and gender-based violence.


    Following the events of the Great March of Return, Médecins du Monde provided support to the emergency services at a number of health centres.


    During the Covid-19 pandemic we extended this support for the emergency services. Healthcare staff were trained and essential protective equipment such as masks was distributed.


    Médecins du Monde has also helped to improve the quality of sexual and reproductive healthcare through the development of dedicated care and treatment protocols and training for healthcare staff around these crucial issues for the communities in Gaza.


    Furthermore, additional activities were organised to contribute to the Covid-19 response within targeted communities, in particular awareness-raising about the risks of spreading the virus and the supply of 150,000 PCR tests to the Ministry of Health.

Civilians and health workers targeted by the conflicts

In addition to the 11,000 civilians injured during Operation Protective Edge mounted by the Israeli military in 2014 and the 18,000 people injured during the Great March of Return on the border between Israel and Gaza, health workers, ambulances and healthcare facilities have also been targeted.


Despite the risks, Médecins du Monde continues its humanitarian work in Palestine to address the consequences of the conflict and the 14 years of the Gaza blockade.

  • Bilan

    In 2021 in the Gaza Strip we:


    • provided 4,844 psychosocial support consultations through our partner organisations who are a major part of our plan for providing medical assistance to the Palestinians
    • supported 452 health centre staff
    • provided aid, supplies and technical training to our local healthcare partners and staff
    • referred 140 people to legal services in the West Bank


Médecins du Monde works in the Nablus region and in the north of the Jordan Valley to provide psychosocial support for victims of violence by settlers and the Israeli armed forces. Medical staff are trained to identify psychosocial issues so patients can be referred to appropriate healthcare facilities. A referral system for mental health problems developed with the Ministry of Health was officially adopted as a tool to be used nationally.


MdM also offers direct psychosocial support, in particular through discussion groups. People who have suffered attacks or who feel under threat can come and share their experiences. We have been able to offer this psychosocial support in villages and some schools in areas where children are particularly exposed to these types of violence. This helps them to build their resilience and manage their stress better.


    In 2021, through our humanitarian mission in the West Bank, Médecins du Monde:


    • provided psychosocial support to 2,450 people
    • reached 1,742 people who took part in sessions on sexual and reproductive health
    • reached 439 people who took part in mental health educations sessions
    • reached 171,438 people with Covid-19 prevention activities during which we delivered awareness-raising sessions to members of the community
  • 199,331

    Beneficiaries in 2021

  • €2,900,000

    Budget in 2021


Beneficiaries in 2021


Budget in 2021

  • 1999
    Mental health and psychosocial support programme started in the West Bank.
  • 2002

    Establishment of a clinic for victims of the conflict during the second Intifada.

  • 2004

    Mental healthcare and psychosocial support at Rafidia Hospital for conflict victims.

  • 2008
    Establishment of a community mental health centre in partnership with the Ministry of Health in Nablus and Jenin.
  • 2009

    Construction of 11 emergency units in the Gaza Strip following the Operation Cast Lead military intervention.

  • 2010

    Integration of mental health services at 10 health centres in the Nablus region.