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How is Ramadan celebrated in conflict-affected Palestine?

Ramadan in Palestine should be a time of festivity and good will, where family members come together to share iftar meals when the sun goes down. However, areas of Palestine have still not recovered from the effects of the 2014 conflict, particularly on the Gaza Strip.

Life is often filled with hardship and suffering for the people of Gaza, and in this respect, Ramadan will be no different than any other month of the year. Due to conflict and the impact of economic restrictions, poverty is commonplace and millions of Palestinians are struggling just to survive.

Food insecurity casts a shadow over Palestine

Rising food prices mean that poor families are unable to access nutritious food. 1.6 million Palestinians don’t have enough to eat, and most people are forced to spend more than half of their income on food. This means that they have less to spend on other essentials, such as education and medicine.   

In Gaza, 50% of people suffer from food insecurity. Unemployment stands at a staggering 43% due to a damaged economy and heavy sanctions that affect a myriad of industries, from construction to fishing and agriculture. Among young people, unemployment is even higher, peaking at 60%. In Palestine, 25% of people are considered poor, with this figure rising to 39% on the Gaza Strip.

Poverty and food insecurity make observing Ramadan very difficult for Palestinian families. When there’s not enough food to go around, it’s hard to plan and cook nutritious iftar meals to break each fast with. The increase in food prices also means that it’s impossible for many families to invite friends and neighbours to share in large meals, an important tradition that fosters a sense of community during Ramadan.

Poverty and uncertainty damage Ramadan traditions 

Ramadan is a time when many Muslims choose to spend hours in prayer, either at home or at their local mosque. However, the fear of airstrikes keep Palestinian Muslims in Gaza away from mosques and violence prevents families from visiting the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem to perform traditional prayers.

In years past, children in Gaza would light colourful lanterns and receive toys and gifts from their parents to celebrate the holy month. Now, poverty is so widespread that families cannot afford to buy new clothes or presents. Traditionally, Palestinian families would give to the poor and needy during the month of Ramadan, but when so many people cannot even afford basic essentials they are simply not able to give charitably.

How can I help?

Human Appeal is on the ground in Palestine, working to provide vulnerable families with the food they need for the month of Ramadan. All Muslims should be able to celebrate Ramadan regardless of where they live in the world, and that’s why we’re asking our donors to give generously during the holy month.

You can provide a needy family with enough food to last them the whole of Ramadan for only £65, or a hot, comforting iftar meal for just £4. Remember that consistent charitable giving throughout the month of Ramadan will bring you more spiritual rewards. Bring hope and joy to hungry families in Palestine this Ramadan.

Now is the time to give.

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