Voices from the Negev in Difficult Times
Voices from the Negev in Difficult Times (July 10, 2014)
Once again we find ourselves in the midst of a circle of violence. In the south, tensions are high. The sirens sound as rockets hit the Negev and the bombing of Gaza continues. Once again, there is death and injury, new victims of an awful conflict, another round of violence and in the end, we return to an unchanged situation. Yesterday we decided to close AJEEC-NISPED’s office in Beer Sheva and allow the staff to work from home. We wanted to mitigate risks to our employees and enable them to be with their children whose camps were cancelled. Nonetheless, and despite the difficult situation, we continue to believe that an end to the current wave of hostilities and moreover, an end to the conflict can only be achieved through negotiations and not through further violence.
Community Resilience and Emergency Response in the Unrecognized Bedouin Villages –
You Can Make a Difference Today
These are truly the worst of times. This latest war is already beyond the scope of recent confrontations. Rockets rain down on communities throughout Israel but the south remains hardest hit and the Negev Bedouin communities that AJEEC-NISPED serves are by far the most vulnerable.
Here is your opportunity to partner with us in easing the burden on Israel’s poorest, most marginalized communities by supporting two emergency programs:
- Community Resilience and Emergency Response
- Increasing Emergency Medical Access to Unrecognized Villages
More than 200,000 Bedouins reside in the Negev and about half live in villages not recognized by the state. These unrecognized villages lack infrastructure and basic services, such as electricity, running water, garbage collection, paved roads, and healthcare clinics. In these critical days, additional governmental services – available to all other communities in Israel – is notably unavailable to these women, children and men. Specifically these villages lack:
- Alarm systems to warn village residents of incoming missiles
- Protective shelters and safe rooms
- Community emergency response teams – who normally operate in coordination with the Israeli Ministry of Welfare services and emergency health response teams to meet the needs of other Israeli communities in distress
Community Resilience and Emergency Response
AJEEC–NISPED’s Community Resilience and Emergency Response program will:
- Train first aid responders from the Bedouin community
- Establish community response teams
- Raise awareness of the community to the risks of the current situation in Arabic, based on the realities of village living conditions.
Increasing Emergency Medical Access to the Unrecognized Villages
A second desperate need is increasing ambulance service to these communities. Because access roads to the villages are rocky and difficult to navigate, Magen David Adom (Israeli Red Cross) ambulances will not cross the unfamiliar desert maze to reach injured men, women, and children in remote unrecognized villages.
Since 2006 AJEEC-NISPED has partnered with Magen David Adom to provide limited emergency service to the Arab Bedouin unrecognized villages of the Negev. Each day, Yasser Abu Rejila, a Bedouin paramedic and driver familiar with the geographical and cultural terrain, responds to calls. Yasser is on-call 24 hours a day. On average, he has provides emergency care for two home accidents and three life threatening medical incidents per day. Today’s volatile political climate challenges Yasser’s capacity. We desperately need to expand this service beyond one single, extraordinary man.