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Karama Provides Emergency Support

Addressing needs when it matters
During Covid-19

Palestinian Refugees

The many challenges of 2021 have only proven the need for ongoing resilience support for Palestinian refugees, as multiple factors contributed to the increased vulnerability of refugee communities such as economic challenges, covid-19 lockdowns and the already harsh situation of refugee families. The Palestinian society is marked by years of conflict, de-development and dependency on foreign aid. As well, many communities live in unsecure situations, where the Israeli military occupation limits movement and development. Adverse conditions are accentuated in the refugee camps, which were originally built as a temporary solution to the Palestinian refugee situation.

In Deheisheh Camp, with more than 15.000 inhabitants, the densely populated environment places strain on under-resourced schools, sanitation systems and health care providers, as well as the lack of empty spaces and over-crowdedness, which affects mental health and well-being.

Emergency Cases in Refugee Camps

Services committees have been activated in each camp to implement emergency activities and promote adherence to safety regulations. The numbers of cases in Arroub, Deheishe, and Fawwar camp are high; reaching almost 1000 cases in each camp. In the camps, schools have been closed for most of the years 2020-2021, which has had a very negative impact on the wellbeing and academic performance of the children. Health facilities have remained open with adjusted services which have been a vital provision from the UNRWA.

What the Data Shows

A report from the PCBS found that “the year 2020 witnessed a decline in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 12% compared to 2019. Due to the early effects of the Coronavirus pandemic during the first quarter of 2020, the Palestinian economy witnessed a decline of around 4% compared to the same quarter of 2019″ (pcbs.gov.ps).

Between March 2020 and November 2020, there have only been a few weeks without lockdown restrictions in Bethlehem and Hebron area.

By the end of March 2021, approximately 280,000 Palestinians had tested positive for COVID-19 and almost 3,000 had died.

In our study, 85% of the women (our respondents) admitted feeling tired and stressed during the COVID19 crisis.

Economic Impact of Covid19

In Palestine

The Palestinian economy has suffered greatly from COVID19. Even with the recent improvement of GDP after the crisis, most households have not yet noticed or benefitted from it. Prices have increased significantly, especially the cost of food and transport.

More than half (52.5%) of the respondents in 2020 said that their main income provider was unable to work during lockdown and they lost their main income.

92% of the households in 2020 stated that their income was less stable, and less in quantity than before.

In September 2020, 56.6% of our respondents stated that they worry “very often” about putting food on the table.

Our Approach

How We Try to Help

Karama’s goals always have been to be a safe place for the children and women of the refugee camps while supporting and widening their educational and developmental opportunities.

Karama has supported and empowered women, youth, children, local farmers, and refugees in general to start their own businesses to support themselves.

Next to emergency food and cash distributions, we focused more on projects that empower and provide opportunities to our target audiences so that they have a stable income source that will develop their self-reliance and resilience in times of emergency.

Covid19 Impact on Refugee Camps

Camp residents already have limited access to assets (such as buildings or land) and face more social-emotional struggles due to the frequent army raids among others.

In the 19 overcrowded refugee camps on the West Bank, the rising prices are significantly felt, as the camps have always seen higher unemployment levels and less stable incomes compared to other Palestinian locations. As well, Karama’s own reporting as well shows that three-quarters of the households in refugee camps have unstable incomes.

Camp residents are more likely to be unemployed: 3.5 out of 10 in refugee camps are unemployed, compared to 2.5 out of 10 in other urban areas (PCBS unemployment statement June 2022).

 

Karama’s Recent Emergency Projects

  1. Food Package Distributions

With the help of its partners, Karama arranged for the distribution of over 2100 food and hygiene packages in the Bethlehem and Hebron area, and also seedlings to promote home production of high value crops.

  1. Cash for Work program

We engaged 80 temporary workers in a Cash-for-Work program. The Cash-for-Work program offered workers a fair income while working on improving public spaces through cleaning, painting, and building.

  1. Emergency Cash Distributions

We were also able to support 138 vulnerable households with cash distributions.

  1. Medical Supplies

Karama Organization assisted with medical supplies where needed, including the fundraising for 5 mechanical oxygen concentrators.

Our Rooftop Greenhouses Project

During COVID19, the weekly training meetings with the engineers and other field visits were unable to continue. This resulted in less support and guidance for the women, but other channels like social media and calls were utilized. This allowed the project staff to keep the connection and also provide guidance on key topics such as preparing for a new planting season, treating any diseases that women faced, and harvesting techniques.

We engaged 70 women out of our 220 women participants in the greenhouses project in a research to observe how the refugee households were impacted by the Coronavirus crisis that has troubled Palestine since March 2020. We found over 90% of the women were able to continue working in their greenhouses and had a successful harvest season, ranging from 40 to 240 kilos of produce.

The large majority of the women consumed their harvest in their household (81.4%). Only 2 women were able to sell it, which was different from last year when at least 20 women sold their harvest. But also 44.3% of the participants handed out (some) for free to the people around them. Besides, 27 women (35%) made food products of their harvest to distribute.

“I clearly remember being so impressed when they placed the tubes on my roof, then the big bags of soil. We were depended in everything on the project’s agricultural engineers when we started. It has been three years and this year I have been dealing with the greenhouse all by myself.”

A 43-year-old participant from Aida camp

Working Hand in Hand with our People and other Institutions

Since the start of COVID19, Karama Organization has been in close communication with local service providers and first-responders to understand what needs exist among them in this new type of crisis.

Karama connects regularly with local health institutes and organizations to address needs and promote adherance to health and safety regulations.

We made a small research among our rooftop greenhouse participants to discuss and analyse how refugee communities have been impacted by the COVID19 crisis.

During Covid-19 crisis we worked with: local UNRWA offices, including the schools, health care offices, and sanitation workers, local religious centers and mosques, local medical centers and hospitals.

“There is something comforting about work in the soil, and I have especially felt its calming impact during the confusing times of 2020.”

One of our participants in the greenhouse project

“I had two of the most successful seasons during COVID 19. I was very happy to stay connected with the engineer through continuous video calls, she guided me through the entire planting seasons. It is true that I did not sell harvest this year, but I planted a variety of crops… which I shared with my family and neighbors.”

A 34-year old participant from Al-Arroub camp

“The outbreak of COVID 19 in Bethlehem was a really depressing time for my family. My children were affected from staying at home and not having much to do. Fighting was a daily thing, I started asking for their help in the greenhouse and around the house to give them some distraction, which they really enjoyed.”

A 35-year-old participant from Dheisheh camp

Early March 2020

Corona Pandemic hit Palestine and Bethlehem and many people lost their jobs

7 out of 10 of our employees have an UNSTABLE monthly income and no fixed livelihood.

​During the closure, this means many of them lost their income for almost 90 days!

180 Families

Received one-time cash transfers

2,100 Food Packages

For needy families; covering essential food items, such as rice, flour, chicken and milk.

12,000 Hygiene Kits

With hand sanitizer, gloves, and disinfectant soap.

80 Employees

Employed in cash for work activities and earned a dignified month income while improving public areas.

220 Greenhouse Project Participants

Agricultural engineers and social workers were following up with them on the phone to succeed in the project and continue taking care of their gardens.

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