Palestinian children bear brunt of health crisis

09 August 2002

Preliminary findings from a survey funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) show that malnutrition among Palestinian children in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has reached emergency proportions as a result of the dire economic situation and restrictions imposed by Israel.

As many as 17.5 per cent of children aged under five in the Gaza Strip are chronically malnourished, the report found and nearly one in five Palestinian children are moderately and/or severely anaemic.

'Market disruptions from curfews, closures, military incursions, border closures and checkpoints affected key high protein foods.in particular infant formula and powdered milk,' the researchers reported. Rising food prices resulting from the travel restrictions, combined with rising poverty have forced over half of the households sampled to reduce their food consumption and borrow money to purchase food. In Jericho and Gaza City, as many as 70 per cent of households have been forced to borrow money, while 41 per cent of Gaza's citizens have had to resort to selling assets to finance their daily food intake.

The report concluded that conditions in the region are much worse today than they were several years ago, and if not addressed would deteriorate further.

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