By: George Kurzom
Psychological, social and economic crises are hurting many citizens after the Corona pandemic
Exclusive to Environment and Development Horizons (Afaq magazine):
The prolonged closure imposed on Palestinians due to the Corona pandemic is a great suffering for individuals who need an extensive socio-livelihood safety net, knowing that the current socio-economic-livelihood situation is only the beginning. If mental health services are not strengthened immediately, in addition to providing economic and living alternatives to large numbers of people who have totally lost their livelihoods, the official Palestinian institution will not be able to face the terrible crisis that will afflict us after returning to "normal" or semi-normal life.
We are still in a viral pandemic quagmire. It may seem that the most important challenge at this point is mainly medical and health related. Aftershocks and a tsunami waves usually follow the main earthquake; we can already see the alarming signs of the second wave of the pandemic: the psychological, economic, and social crises that are devastating to many citizens.
The reasons for this are many and cumulative. First of all, we all live in an extended state of anxiety and uncertainty stemming from ambiguous and inconclusive medical information, the real danger from infection, disease, and possibly death. The crisis also has a peculiar psychological aspect pertaining to family relations, as members of the same family cause the threat of infecting each other. Such a reality increases anxiety and disrupts the sense of belonging and safety.
The pandemic exposed the falsehood of "development" which has been well advocated for by authority symbols, activists in academia, and NGOs. Ever since the early 1990’s, we were keen to warn about the existential danger to our people from this superficial, appearance-oriented, parasitic, and rentier “development”. It is the kind of development that materialized, on the one hand, in augmented investments and expenditures in the services, entertainment, and financial sectors; and on the other hand, in the fragility and shallowness of actual investments in the productive economic sectors, foremost of which are self-reliant agriculture and agro-food processing. As a result, the occupation’s ability and “creativity” in controlling us by feeding or starving have been strengthened. Moreover, investment in the social, health, educational, and scientific-research sectors is meager, compared to the bloated PA security budgets (to serve whom?). One of the most visible manifestations of this is how senior officials and elites, when sick, get their treatment in American and European hospitals. Besides, many of the officials and elites arrange for their children to get their education in western universities. All in all, there has been a significant increase in the percentage of the population that has been distraught, or will be distraught, by the hunger pandemic and the poverty pandemic.
Translated by: Carol Khoury