March 23, 2019
Latest News

Gaza hosts 1st international student as part of exchange program

Gaza, Mar 11 (efe-epa).- An Italian man has become the first student in the world to get an Erasmus Mundus scholarship in the Gaza Strip, where Israel has imposed a land, sea and air blockade for almost 12 years.

Riccardo Corradini, a sixth-year medical student, comes from the northern Italian city of Trentino and is now considered as the first international student to be hosted at Gaza's Islamic University as part of the student exchange program.

"Before coming here I thought Gaza was a difficult place to live in so I was really interested to understand how things really go in Gaza," the 25-year-old told EFE.

Corradini is set to spend a total of four months in the coastal enclave, where he will specialize in emergency surgery.

Three years ago, the University of Siena, where Corradini studies, started a collaboration project with an Italian NGO that deals with Palestinian universities in the West Bank, and currently in Gaza.

"It is a great success for the entire academic world," said Corradini, who has opened a door for other Italian students to travel to the strip as part of the program that could be extended to other French or Spanish universities.

Corradini explained he struggled to adapt to the Palestinian city at first due to the different pace of life, but he had become more satisfied now with his life in the enclave.

"Gaza is like a little world in a city so you have everything in it, everything you need from hospitals to universities to markets. It is very nice to appreciate it because it is difficult to find a place like this in the world," he said.

Corradini admitted it was difficult for him to get used to the local food, jokingly saying: "There is no pizza or pasta, only a lot of hummus and falafel."

In 2007, Israel has strictly blockaded the strip when Hamas Islamist organization took over, direly impacting the humanitarian situation.

Due to these border restrictions, the public health services have worsened due to the limited supplies and medicine.

The World Health Organization has warned recently that there is a shortage on 223 essential medicines in Gaza.

Last year, over 200 Palestinians were killed and nearly 30,000 others were wounded in the weekly Great March of Return protests, which were calling for the right of Palestinian refugees and their descendants, who according to the United Nations make up around two thirds of Gaza's population, to return to their homeland inside what is now Israel.

The aspiring surgeon focuses on his education and practices in several hospitals, where he attends emergencies that sometimes are related to the conflict.

"People explain their daily suffering and express how life in Gaza has become increasingly difficult," Corradini concluded.

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