Monday, December 15, 2008

Besieged and stressed Gazans fall victim to black market painkiller.

Thousands of young Gazans are becoming addicted to the painkiller tramadol, which is similar to morphine, but not as powerful.

There are no exact figures, but one researcher estimates that up to 30% of males between 14 and 30 use it regularly, and that as many as 15,000 are addicted.

"Every day I see them with symptoms of withdrawal from this drug," said Dr Mahoud Khozendar, of Shifa hospital in Gaza city. "Dozens come to emergency telling me that they are suffering vomiting, drowsiness and lack of concentration."

Professor Mazen al-Sakka, a pharmacologist at Gaza's al-Azhar university who researched the epidemic, said the problem mushroomed after Israel blockaded the tiny coastal territory in June last year.

The siege was intended to break Hamas, but instead the Islamists have strengthened their grip.

These are all the side effects of Israel's siege of the Gaza Strip, and an indication of the stress which is caused by placing an entire population under occupation.

In Gaza where electricity, water or sewage services are often cut for up to 16 hours a day and where unemployment stands at 50%, thousands of men spend the day chatting in the streets or cafes, unable to help their families. Even those lucky enough to still have a job feel the pressure, as each breadwinner supports an average of seven people on a salary of about 58 shekels a day, according to the UN.

"It's a way of avoiding or escaping the political situation - the unemployment, the closure. It's a huge source of stress," said Dr Taysir Diab, a psychiatrist at the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme.

One of my greatest hopes regarding the Obama presidency is that he will make good on his campaign promises and work from the first day he enters office to bring an end to this dispute.

The casual cruelty which Israel regularly visits upon the civilian population of Gaza has to be stopped. All of this is happening because some Israeli's refuse to accept that the West Bank and Gaza are not part of Greater Israel.

For the past eight years there has been almost no serious peace talks between the two parties as Bush has come down so heavily on the Israeli side. I can think of no previous American president who has so washed his hands of this conflict, a conflict which does more than any other to fuel terrorism worldwide.

Obama will represent a fresh start. And I really hope that he is true to his word.

Click title for full article.


Ingrid said...

oh man, I do so hope so as well..

Kel said...

Fingers crossed Ingrid!