Displaced people in Gaza…barefoot on contaminated land and diseases lurk

Written By Mark

Among the tents of displaced Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, on a land full of dirt and obstacles, the child Camelia Abu Khader (9 years old) runs with her friends, having fun barefoot, unaware of the dangers of the matter and not caring about the diseases that may be transmitted to them from the polluted land.

A scene that reflects the reality of the scarcity of shoes under the harsh conditions imposed by the devastating Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip that has continued for 8 months, which led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from one place to another more than once.

Widespread diseases

Children do not care about diseases and germs that are transmitted from soil contaminated with dirt and sewage, which puts their health at risk in light of the spread of infectious diseases and the lack of treatment and medical supplies.

They continue to play without shoes to protect their dirty feet, seeking to enjoy their time despite the harsh conditions resulting from war and displacement, without realizing the potential danger of the spread of infectious diseases that may affect them.

According to the government media office in the Gaza Strip, there are about 20,000 cases of viral hepatitis infection as a result of displacement in the Strip.

On May 24, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, UNRWA, warned that the number of people infected with infectious diseases was increasing in the Gaza Strip, according to reports from the World Health Organization.

UNRWA said in a post on the X platform: World Health Organization reports indicate that the numbers of people infected with infectious diseases, including diarrhea and hepatitis A, are on the rise in Gaza.

Last April, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) indicated that the already serious sanitation crisis had worsened as summer approached, especially after the collapse of the wastewater treatment system.

Gaza residents complain of the proliferation of mosquitoes and rodents, the accumulation of waste and the leakage of sewage, in addition to the danger represented by decomposing bodies under the rubble without being able to recover them in light of the Israeli war that has been going on for 8 months.

Missing shoe

The child Camellia, who was displaced from the Beit Lahia area in the northern Gaza Strip, says: I lost my shoes on Salah al-Din Street during the displacement, and now I do not have shoes and walk barefoot.

She added to Anatolia: My father used to work and do his best to buy shoes for us when we were in Beit Lahia, but today there is no work and no shoes.

She explained that during her displacement, she saw corpses and children on the ground, and when she arrived in the center of the Gaza Strip, she took refuge in Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, where she did not find clothes or blankets, so she wrapped herself in the shrouds of the dead.

She mentioned that when she was in Beit Lahia, she had shoes and clothes, but the Israeli bombing targeted their house and she lost everything.

Shoe crisis in displacement camps

Inside a small tent that lacks the most basic necessities of life, mother Nirman Abu Al-Saud sits, with traces of effort and fatigue on her face, barefoot as a result of the wear of her shoes.

Nirman (36 years old) is trying hard to provide a living for her family and husband instead of buying replacement shoes for her shoes, which have become worn out.

She told an Anadolu correspondent: We were displaced from the Sheikh Radwan area north of Gaza City to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, and we are living in difficult humanitarian conditions.

She added: We walked long distances during the displacement, as there were not sufficient means of transportation to carry the displaced.

She continues: We are now suffering from a scarcity of shoes for me and my children, and the ones available in our tent are worn out and not suitable for walking.

She mentions that she and her children walk barefoot in the displacement camp, and that they are unable to buy shoes due to their high prices resulting from the scarcity of goods.

She explains that this situation does not apply only to her, but to many in the displacement camps who do not have shoes and walk barefoot.

The Palestinian woman explains that the scarcity of shoes is due to Israel closing the crossings and preventing the entry of goods and humanitarian aid into the Strip.

She expresses her fear of transmitting diseases to herself and her children as a result of walking barefoot, especially in bathrooms and areas contaminated with dirt and sewage.

The mother hopes that the war will end, that the atmosphere will return to normal in peace and safety, and that medicines, medical supplies, and basic needs will be available.

Repair worn out ones

In turn, her husband, Youssef Abu Al-Saud (44 years old), is trying to repair his child’s worn-out shoes by patching together the severed parts with nails and wires.

Youssef says: Shoes are scarce and their prices are so high that I cannot buy them, and children walk barefoot despite the spread of dirt and sewage.

He added: I fear that my three children will be infected with a disease due to walking barefoot in light of the spread of diseases among the displaced.

He points out that his feet became infected with fungi and ulcers as a result of walking barefoot, and there is no treatment for these cases in the Gaza Strip in light of the lack of medicines.

He explains that the prices of shoes are high, with the price of each shoe reaching 90 shekels ($24), and he is unable to buy them due to the absence of job opportunities and his dependence on aid.

He says that he tries to repair old, worn-out shoes using nails and wire, but they quickly become damaged and are not suitable for walking long distances.

With the Israeli aggression, two million Palestinians were displaced from their homes, and are currently living in difficult humanitarian conditions, according to a statement issued by the government media office in Gaza recently.

The Palestinians face a major shortage of fuel, medicines, and other life necessities, in light of Israel’s closure of the crossings and the large numbers of displaced people who need humanitarian aid.

The Palestinians suffer from difficult financial conditions, as they have no source of income as the war continues for the eighth month in a row.

On May 7, the Israeli army occupied the Rafah crossing, which is the main corridor for aid to enter the Gaza Strip and for the sick and wounded to travel abroad for treatment.

Since October 7, Israel has launched a devastating aggression against Gaza, leaving more than 118,000 Palestinian martyrs and wounded, most of them children and women, and about 10,000 missing amid massive destruction.