Bethlehem: supplies running out at CAFOD disabled children's centre

 A Bethlehem health centre, run by one of CAFOD's partners, that cares for children with cerebral palsy is running critically low of food and medicine because of the current incursion of Israeli forces. The centre, which is run by the Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation (BASR), is away from the main violence in Bethlehem. But the area is under strict around the clock curfew and Israeli tanks and soldiers patrol the streets. Imad Abumohor is deputy executive director of BASR and one of the staff trapped inside the centre. He said: "We have difficulty in securing enough food for our patients as well as for our staff. We are short of medicine and the situation is very difficult." The rehabilitation centre currently cares for 12 children, aged from six months to five years, with cerebral palsy. It also houses 45 adults who have suffered serious health problems including many who have been injured in the fighting in the region. A skeleton staff has been forced to live inside the centre since the Israeli army moved into Bethlehem. Other staff are unable to get to work because of the curfew and the families of the patients are unable to visit. Imad Abumohor said: "Some of our patients had left the centre for their families at the weekend when the Israelis moved in. There is no way for them to get back here." On Tuesday the Israelis called a short break in the curfew to allow people to go out onto the streets and get supplies. But said Imad Abumohor, "Unfortunately there is not enough food or gas in the market for the people. And anyway we don't have the money to buy it. We have been offered some food baskets by local people who are also trying to get us medicine, but so far we have not received anything." Imad Abumohor is also worried about older children with cerebral palsy that it helps care for. The philosophy of BASR is to put these children into general day care centres where they can get an education and mix with other children. He said: "We have had no contact with the other day care centres. The whole centre of Bethlehem is completely destroyed and we are very worried."

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