The reality of Gaza in figures

Christophe de Brouwer, Honorary Professor and former President of the School of Public Health at the Free University of Brussels, reminds us of some of the realities of the situation in Palestine, with public health figures for the Gaza Strip.

Population: 2,200,000 million, including 1,024,000 children (<18 years), i.e. 47% of the population. Population density: 6,000 per km² (in the top 5 highest in the world: the Gaza Strip lies between Hong Kong (7,000 per km²) and Gibratar (3,500 per km2)). Israel’s population density is 385 per km².

Infant mortality in a « normal » situation: 15 deaths per thousand children under 1 year of age (year 2020). In comparison, Israel is 2.8. With a fertility rate that remains high, albeit declining, at 3.4 children per woman.

La densité de population de Gaza est de 6000 au km², celle d’Israël de 385 

Refugees registered with UNRWA(1) represent 70% of the population of the Gaza Strip, compared with 28% for the West Bank. In contrast to the West Bank, native populations have become a strong minority.

According to the UN, 60% of the population lives below the poverty line and depends on humanitarian aid. In « normal » times, access to electricity is possible for half a day a day, access to drinking water is a daily problem, and waste disposal is a major concern. The situation is worsening dramatically: for example, water desalination pumps are at a standstill due to a lack of power, and the distribution of quarterly food rations has failed to reach 500,000 people.

The current situation as of October 12: UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine) buildings have been hit by bombardments, and 12 UNRWA workers have been killed since the start of events. According to OCHA (also a UN agency), the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) (report of October 11 at 4pm) is 340,000: 15% of the population are already in a situation of great urgency (report of October 11 at 4pm).

No electricity, no drinking water, a severe shortage of medicines, no housing other than UNRWA shelters, cellars, underground parking lots and tunnels, major promiscuity, incessant bombardments (entire neighborhoods have already disappeared) : this means a high mortality rate, of which many are children (currently 1/3 of deaths are children), due to violence of course, but soon probably mainly due to disease, especially diarrhoea in the very young, dramatic epidemics to come, etc. There’s no mystery about the deleterious effects of current events on such a large, deprived and young population.

Christophe de Brouwer

Honorary full professor and former chair of the School of Public Health at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. (October 12, 2023)

Notes et références
1. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

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