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Source: United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
8 February 2009


Gaza Crisis:
Psycho-social Consequences
for Women


Executive Summary
8 February 2009


Prepared by:
Culture and Free Thought Association (CFTA)
Funded by:
United Nations Population Fund
Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People
P.O. Box 67149
Jerusalem


Background

The Israeli military forces launched a 23-days military offensive on the Gaza Strip. As a result, some areas were completely flattened to the ground, leaving many people displaced including women and children. As per a report by OCHA issued on the 19th of January 2009, 50,896 persons were displaced. Overall, at the height of the crisis, an estimated 100,000 people were displaced including those in shelters and with host families. The war also has left many civilian casualties. According to a report by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights issued on the 23rd of January 2009, 8.6% of people killed (111) and 17% of the injured (735) were women.

Civil society and international organizations worked on early intervention activities, including providing response to basic humanitarian needs for Gaza’s population. Psychosocial interventions have so far been random and were mostly directed towards children.

UNFPA commissioned the Gaza based Culture and Free Thought Association1 (CFTA) to carry out a quick survey to assess the situation of women in Gaza and to gauge urgent priority as well as medium and long term issues they might be confronted with.

The survey aimed at (i) identifying psychosocial difficulties that women are facing in the aftermath of the conflict, (ii) providing an overview on health and maternal health services that were available to women during the time of the war, and (iii) identifying women's immediate needs especially in the areas of social and psychological support. The survey was based on a qualitative method to collect data through organizing 5 women focus groups including 71 women at various ages and from different areas in the Gaza Strip, and one focus group of 14 young people between the ages of 20-30 years from the Beit Lahia area. The focus group discussions were complemented with interviews with medical workers (directors, social workers, paramedics) at various UNRWA medical centers, as well as a review of the available literature of assessment information and reports released during and after the war. Special attention was given to identify the difficulties that women faced during the war, necessary assistance mechanisms and other elements.

The findings of the focus group discussions and interviews were consolidated in a draft report in Arabic and summarized in English in this Executive Summary. Once the Arabic report is finalized, it will be translated into English.

The report highlights the following findings:

(1) Women's Psychological difficulties during the war.
(2) Fear
(3) Feelings of insecurity and inability to protect others

(4) Nervousness and overreaction

(8) Reproductive health services

(9) Pregnant Women

(10) Women's needs for Social and Psychological support

RECOMMENDATIONS

Launching short, medium, and long term programmes to ensure suitable and efficient interventions that meet women's needs need to focus on:



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1 CFTA has been a long partner of UNFPA in Gaza. Through its women Health Center in Bureij refugee camps, CFTA played an important role in the provision of services to women during emergency and crisis times, including a greater focus on psychosocial and outreach programs. In addition to providing a holistic package of services from clinical to psychosocial and legal care for refugee and non-refugee women.

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