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The aftermath of bombing in Al Maghazi Credits: Caritas Jerusalem

The aftermath of bombing in Al Maghazi
Credits: Caritas Jerusalem

Mrs Asmahan suffers from constant abdominal pain and her 18-year-old son has started to wet the bed.

Even though the Israeli attacks on Gaza were three months ago, the fear and the consequences of it are very much present in people’s lives.

“I lost my house and all my belongings,” says Mrs Asmahan. “It is very hard to thank God my children and I are safe under the circumstances.”

The Caritas mobile medical team travels around Gaza to offer psychological as well as medical support. It helps people deal with the stress and grief which is common among conflict survivors.

“During my work I have seen cases of eating disorders, insomnia, chronic fear, bedwetting, disorientation and trauma,” says Maha Al Omari, a Caritas counsellor who has been helping children and parents cope following the violence.

Many of the cases she sees involve children, who are particularly vulnerable during and following a conflict situation.

“I have been wetting my bed since a rocket fell on my house while I was sleeping,” says 12-year-old Khoulod Murad.

If left unaddressed, these physical symptoms could lead to mental health issues such as depression, emotional problems, family disintegration and domestic violence.

The Caritas mobile medical team is composed of healthcare professional who are experienced in providing health assistance in post-conflict settings.

Gaza’s health structure was fragile even before January’s attacks. It is estimated that 40 percent of clinics were damaged during the attacks and many are currently understaffed.

As the remaining hospitals beginning to discharge large numbers of patients, Caritas mobile clinics are essential in providing on-going care to thousands of Palestinians suffering from physical and mental ailments.

The effects of losing a house and a family member will be felt for a long time to come by the people of Gaza. In the meantime, they try to get by in temporary shelter and by leading temporary lives which only adds to their anguish.

“I visited a school where 1500 people were living,” says Ms Al Omari. “Most of the cases I saw were similar: mothers who were having nervous breakdowns because they had lost a son, a daughter, a husband and everything else they had worked for all their lives.”