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Health Report On Unrecognized Villages In Negev


Physicians for Human Rights-Israel UPDATE

PHR-Israel & RCUV Release New Report on Health in the "Unrecognized" Villages in the Negev

Physician for Human Rights - Israel (PHR-Israel) & the Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages in the Negev (RCUV) have released a new report entitled: "No Man's Land – Health in the Unrecognized Villages in the Negev". The report addresses the state of health and the realization of the right to health in 46 unrecognized Arab-Bedouin villages in the Negev.

The report depicts a contemporary portrait of the living conditions and of the state of existing medical services these villages. The combination of these two aspects demonstrates the obstacles that lay before some 75,000 citizens of Israel as they strive to lead a healthy life.

A short historical background, including a critique of the government’s policy with regards to the status of "recognition", opens the report. It explains how the way the institutional discourse affects the public and Media discourse. This, in turn, paves the way to aggressive acts committed against the Arab-Bedouin Israeli citizens, and to public approval of these acts e.g. home and mosque demolitions as well as crop spraying.

Subsequently, the report gives an overview of the physical, environmental and sanitary conditions present in the unrecognized villages in the Negev- lack of basic infrastructure such as water, electricity, telecommunications; lack of a proper sewage system; and the absence of refuse disposal system. An analysis of the ways in which the current situation hinders the ability of the Arab Bedouin communities to lead a healthy life and to secure such a life for their children, is presented.

A special chapter is dedicated to the ways the Ramat-Hovav Industrial Zone and hazardous chemical material disposal site exposes the three adjacent villages – Wadi Alna’am, Wadi Al Mshash and Bir Hadaj – to extreme health risks both on a daily basis and in particular when a hazardous Chemical Materials (HCM) event occurs.

A large part of the report describes the current available medical services: 8 clalit HMO clinics have been established since 1994. All clinics suffer from problems: short operating hours that do not address the cultural constraints of the communities; absence of in-house advanced medical services; and lack of Arabic speaking staff. Mother-Child clinics, crucial for the healthy development of children, are in shortage and suffer from problems similar to the ones described above in relation to the HMO clinics.

Moreover, the Arab-Bedouin unrecognized villages face inability to fulfill their right to emergency health services. Due to problems arising from their status of recognition, such as lack of passable routes, the MDA ambulances hardly ever enter the villages. In the case of emergency, the patient must be driven in a private vehicle to a meeting point. The time of the journey can reach 45 minutes.

In conclusion, PHR-Israel and the RCUV believe that the just demand of the residents of the unrecognized villages for recognition should be addressed appropriately, through active cooperation between the State of Israel and the elected representatives of the villages. At the same time, PHR-Israel and the RCUV demand that Israel connects the unrecognized villages to the national infrastructure systems and supply basic services such as health clinics in all existing Arab-Bedouin villages in quantity and quality equivalent to the Israeli standard, regardless of the question of recognition. Civil status, municipal boundaries and planning definitions cannot become conditions restricting the realization of the right to health.

For more information regarding the project please visit:

http://www.phr.org.il/Phr/Pages/PhrArticle_Unit.asp?Cat=153&art=532&Pcat=4

The report (English version) may be downloaded from:

http://www.phr.org.il/Phr/downloads/dl_155.doc

To view the pictures from the report please visit the gallery on our website at:

http://www.phr.org.il/phr/Pages/gallery.asp?Cat=43


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