Breaking Barriers: Humanitarian Aid to Palestine and Cuba
Posted on: Tuesday, July 31, 2012
This post originally appeared in Peace x Peace.
By Yifat Susskind
“They are among the most marginalized people, suffering at the hands of governments playing political games with their lives. In my travels to Cuba and Palestine, I have seen this firsthand.”
“Blockade” and “embargo” are just words, bureaucratic jargon. But they represent very real policies being enacted and supported by the US that are devastating the lives of women, children, and families in Palestine and Cuba.
The suffering caused by these blockades and embargoes is often invisible to many—but not to me, nor to any of us at MADRE, an international women’s human rights organization. That’s because our partners are directly impacted by these policies. They are among the most marginalized people, suffering at the hands of governments playing political games with their lives. In my travels to Cuba and Palestine, I have seen this firsthand.
In Cuba, a small boy with lymphoblastic leukemia is denied US-made drugs that could save his life. He may be the next victim of the shameful US embargo: left untreated, this type of leukemia is fatal in two to three months. Cuba has created a medical system that is a model for the world, putting people’s right to health first. But the embargo bars Cuban doctors and nurses from accessing the medicines they need to save lives.
In Gaza, Palestine, a mother rushes her four-year-old daughter to the hospital. The girl struggles to breathe through a violent cough. But because of the years-long Israeli blockade, which keeps vital supplies out of Gaza, the emergency treatment she needs is missing. Red tape and military barriers stand between her and life-saving care in Israel. To her mother’s horror, the little girl dies.
Tragedies like these are all too common throughout Cuba and Palestine—and these are the stories that I hear from our sisters in both places. While the two countries may seem, at first glance, to have little in common, both have been cut off by embargoes and blockades that limit their access to urgent medical care. Their people have suffered needless, avoidable sickness and death as a result.
MADRE has seized a historic opportunity to make an incredible difference. We’ve located a US-based intermediary licensed to ship medications directly to Gaza, bypassing the usual bureaucracy and red tape, and we’ve been able to renew our government-issued license to send humanitarian aid to Cuba, which we lost because of embargo restrictions.
And, because of MADRE’s unique model of partnership with grassroots women, we already have sister organizations at the ready, prepared to immediately deploy the supplies to doctors, hospitals, and most importantly, the patients who need them most. In this moment, we have the opportunity to save thousands of lives, to overcome damaging politics and reach out to the real people whose suffering has been the result of red-tape and bureaucracy.
MADRE already has a strong track record of helping women and families in both Cuba and Palestine. Until we lost our license to ship humanitarian aid to Cuba because of embargo restrictions, we helped ship millions of dollars-worth of medicines to hospitals there.
For years, we’ve worked with our Palestinian and Israeli partners who have counted on MADRE and our supporters to help them work for peace. In Gaza, hospitals depleted by the blockade have few medical supplies to provide life-saving care. Our support will equip them with urgent medical aid, including sterilization kits, needles, anesthetics and blood for transfusions.
The dollars we raise and the support we send will translate directly into nutritional supplements, antibiotics and vital medical supplies. They’ll become medicines to treat meningitis, cystic fibrosis, asthma, pneumonia and childhood cancer. They’ll buy gauze and latex gloves, and provide missing parts for neonatal respirators, incubators, infusion pumps and pediatric needles that often mean the difference between life and death to sick children.
It’s a simple issue: denying life-saving medicines to children and families is cruel and unethical — and should not be considered a “policy option.” We know what to do to help alleviate the suffering of those trapped behind the blockades. And we know how to do it: by providing urgent humanitarian aid and by advocating to change harmful policies.
Archives"Press Releases" Home March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 September 2013 August 2013 June 2013 March 2013 February 2013 September 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 November 2010 October 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 September 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 January 2009 October 2008 September 2008 July 2008 June 2008 May 2008 February 2008 January 2008 November 2007 October 2007 September 2007 August 2007 March 2007 February 2007 December 2006 October 2006 July 2006 June 2006 September 2005 January 2004 August 2001
Kat Noel, Website & Media Coordinator
PHONE: +1 212 627 0444
MADRE & Our Partners Make News
The Right to Heal: 11 Years After Iraq Invasion, U.S. Urged on Reparations for War's Enduring Wounds (Democracy Now!, March 26, 2014)
Protests Call Iraq's New Family Law 'Legalization of Pedophilia' (Rudaw, March 10, 2014)
Haiti: the neoliberal model imposed on the country is failing its citizens (The Guardian, February 5, 2014)
Human rights group slams Iraq over treatment of women in prison (Miami Herald, February 2, 2014)
New Ways to Evaluate Impact (Stanford Social Innovation Review, January 24, 2014)