Update from Yasser Abu Jamei, head of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme
On Saturday, November 25, two days into the temporary truce, Dr. Yasser Abu Jamei told us he had visited the GCMHP community center in Deir al Balah where he met with 10 members of the GCMHP staff. Because there is no fuel for public transport, they had travelled to the center by foot, on bicycles, and even by donkey cart. Many had been displaced from the north and all were eager to get back to work. “Their spirits are high,” he reported.
They made a plan to divide their time between GCMHP community centers in Deir al Balah and Khan Yunis which had suffered some damage but were still usable, and to work as well in the shelters where hundreds of thousands had taken refuge. They have enough medication for three or four weeks. Dr. Yasser is trying to figure out how to get more medication as well as food, fuel and water for the community centers, and is hoping that UNRWA will facilitate this. “Things are difficult,” he said, “but people are moving forward.”
Gaza City in the north, from which many of the staff had been displaced, remains off limits. Dr.Yasser does not know if the GCMHP headquarters in Gaza City is still standing and has not been able to establish contact with all the staff in the north. He does know that three young, talented women psychologists who worked with GCMHP have been killed in the bombing and other staff members have lost their homes and close family members.
In spite of the horror which has impacted everyone, the GCMHP staff is determined to try to keep providing services even when/if the bombing is resumed.