COVID-19: LWF joins call for release of U.S. funding for West Bank and Gaza
NGOs call for urgent action for the most vulnerable
(LWI) – The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) urges the government of the United States of America (USA) to "restart critical humanitarian and development programs immediately in the West Bank and Gaza." Together with other NGOs and faith-based organizations, the LWF has written a letter with this call to the U.S. secretary of state, Michael Pompeo, and the administrator of the United States Agency for International Development USAID, Mark Green.
“In order to slow the expansion of COVID-19 globally, we must do more to address populations who are most vulnerable to its spread,” the letter from 3 April states. “With additional and expedient resources, we have an opportunity to potentially save millions of lives and livelihoods.”
"NGOs could scale up their programs immediately, and the East Jerusalem hospitals could be financially stabilized and avoid interruptions to patient treatment should the Administration release its hold on assistance to the West Bank and Gaza.”
Taking action is particularly urgent, the letter states, as “the humanitarian situation facing Palestinians before the outbreak was already dire, and the presence of the disease will only intensify the suffering.” The NGOs say more than 60% of Gaza’s population lives with food insecurity and and over half of the workforce is unemployed. “Due to the economic despair, many people lack access to even the most basic necessities required to slow the spread of the virus such as clean water and soap. Gaza is also one of the most densely populated areas on earth, with 2 million people living in overcrowded conditions with little access to healthcare.”
"Without additional resources to alleviate the outbreak and its economic costs, the severely strained health systems in the West Bank and Gaza will soon be pushed beyond the breaking point," the NGOs conclude.
LWF Jerusalem and the Augusta Victoria Hospital have put in place a series of measures to enable the hospital to stay open and continue to provide life-saving treatment to its critically ill cancer and kidney patients.
AVH has established a separate center that can isolate and treat up to 12 COVID-19 cases, and a separate building has been rehabilitated to accommodate suspected cases. AVH has furthermore received approval from the Israeli Ministry of Health to collect and analyze COVID-19 samples in its laboratory, in a facility set up close to the COVID-19 treatment center. Funding to secure the overall financial stability of the hospital, as well as additional financial resources dedicated to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, is of utmost importance to protect the most vulnerable and to save lives.