Children at risk in the Gaza conflict
In Gaza, a crisis for children
© UNICEF SoP/Eyad El Baba|
Salma, 14, wishes her school in Beit Lahia, Gaza, had a science lab. “Many of our science lessons are taught in a theoretical manner, without applying any of the experiments we read in our book.” Her school used to have a lab, but it was destroyed in the 2014 Israel-Gaza war, which damaged 258 schools and kindergartens.
Two years after the 2014 war, recovery is slow
The 2014 Israel-Gaza war took a heavy toll on Gaza’s children: more than 500 were killed, 3,374 were injured – nearly a third of whom suffer permanent disability – and more than 1,500 were orphaned. Hundreds of thousands were left in trauma.
The war devastated infrastructure that was already teetering on the brink of collapse. The education and health sectors were particularly hard hit. During the 51-day conflict, 258 schools and kindergartens were damaged, including 26 schools that are beyond repair. Seven health facilities were destroyed and 67 hospitals and clinics were damaged.
Two years later, Gaza’s children and their families continue to suffer from slow recovery due in large part to an economic blockade that has gone on for nearly a decade. Only a fraction of the 18,000 households that lost their homes in the conflict have been able to rebuild due to restrictions on the importation of building supplies, such as cement. The damage to school buildings has placed additional strain on the education system, which was already operating on double shifts before the war – with half the students attending in the morning and the other half in the afternoon – due to a shortage of classroom space.
One of the most densely populated areas on earth, Gaza today is at risk of health and environmental catastrophe from ailing water and sanitation infrastructure. The sewage system is unable to cope with the needs of the area’s 1.8 million people, meaning that 90 million litres of untreated or partially treated raw sewage is released into the Mediterranean Sea every day. Essential materials are barred from entry, making it impossible to update and maintain water and sanitation facilities and posing a serious threat to health and livelihoods.
Restrictions on fuel imports have led to severe electricity shortages, with ramifications for many sectors. Without access to regular and reliable electricity, hospitals are unable to operate at full capacity, and have had to postpone elective surgeries to prioritize emergencies. Fuel shortages have also affected access to water, as pumps cannot operate at full capacity and sewage treatment plants have had to run shortened treatment cycles.
Gaza has the highest unemployment rate in the world, estimated at nearly 43 per cent in 2014. Nearly 80 per cent of the population is dependent on international aid.
UNICEF is on the ground in Gaza providing education, nutrition, health and psychosocial support to children affected by trauma. We are also helping to restore access to water, sanitation and hygiene.
Read more about UNICEF’s work and the State of Palestine’s needs
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Perspectives, actions and accounts of UNICEF's team and partners in the region working on behalf of children
Increasing youth civic engagement
GAZA, State of Palestine, 14 September 2016 – “We don’t have a library in our school. This is why we wanted to create a unique and creative library. We recycled old objects, painted them ourselves and used them as furniture. I feel really proud with what we did, this made me feel that I left my fingerprint in my school.” Mayar, 16, is one of 600 students trained in civic engagement and leadership in 11 secondary schools.
‘Tree of life’
GAZA, State of Palestine, 9 September 2016 – School counselor Noufoth is doing a 'Tree of life' exercise as part of a child protection training organized by UNICEF in the Gaza Strip, “to help children open up and talk about the difficult experiences they have gone through, without prompting them to fall back into trauma again."
Our dreams are coming true
IBZIQ, West Bank, 7 September 2016 – Ibziq, a small herding community, is home to more than 400 people, half of them are children below the age of 18. With funding from the Government of Japan, UNICEF and partners have been providing safe drinking water and hygiene services there.
Reaching the most vulnerable children in the State of Palestine
TUBAS, West Bank, 6 September 2016 – For 10-year old Beisan, who uses a wheelchair, life in the herding community of Wadi al-Faw, in the northern part of Jordan Valley, is a daily challenge.
Promoting artistic talents of adolescents in Gaza
Gaza, 23 August 2016 – Hundreds of adolescents participated in the closing ceremony of the school beautification project, implemented by the General Union of Cultural Centres (GUCC) and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education in cooperation with UNICEF. Funded by Qatar Development Fund through Al Fakhoora Project, this project enhances creativity, communication, and cooperation of 1,450 adolescents through the use of paint murals techniques.
Rebuilding child-friendly schools
GAZA, State of Palestine, 19 August 2016 – UNICEF is helping rebuild and rehabilitate several governmental schools that were destroyed across the Gaza Strip in the 2014 conflict. Coached by local artists, the students of 145 schools were trained in art before designing and painting uplifting murals to beautify their schools.
EU Commissioner announces additional funding for seawater desalination plant in Gaza
GAZA, State of Palestine, 14 June 2016 – European Union Commissioner Johannes Hahn visited the EU-funded desalination plant in southern Gaza, which is currently in the final stage of its construction. Once fully operational, it will provide safe drinking water for over 75,000 Palestinians in Khan Younis and Rafah.
Mobile Family Center in Juhor Ad Dik provides children with psychosocial support and other services
JUHOR AD DIK, State of Palestine, 8 June 2016 – Children and families in Juhor Ad Dik, a very poor community in the Gaza Strip, are benefitting from one of 28 UNICEF-supported Family Centers, which provide psychosocial support and other services, such as awareness-raising about positive discipline.
What do children want for their school?
GAZA, State of Palestine, 4 May 2016 – As of 2014, Gaza has a shortage of 200 schools, and 80 per cent of schools must run double shifts to accommodate students. As UNICEF helps rebuild and rehabilitate damaged schools, it is soliciting input from students.
New school washrooms bring better hygiene practices
QABATIA, State of Palestine, 21 April 2016 – Before the Khawla bint Al Azwar School for Girls in Qabatia, West Bank, received new water and sanitation facilities in 2015, more than 700 students from grades 1-8 had to wait in line to use the school’s nine restrooms – out-dated facilities that were always filthy and unhygienic due to overuse.
Water crisis threatens 35,000 Palestinians, half of them children
RAMALLAH, State of Palestine, 14 April 2016 – A project providing extremely vulnerable communities in the West Bank with water at affordable prices is at risk of being discontinued, as funding has been exhausted. The suspension of water assistance may lead to displacement, especially given this year’s below-average rainfall.
GAZA, State of Palestine, 16 April 2016 – In Gaza, students are transforming and beautifying their damaged schools through creative and uplifting art.
Overcoming distance: Gaza-Qatar
State of Palestine, 13 April 2016 – Students in Gaza and Qatar are having regular online meetups as part of UNICEF’s ‘Virtual Majilis’ programme, which helps them challenge preconceptions and stereotypes, develop a deeper understanding of their different cultures, and engage in creative and critical thinking.
Japan supports UNICEF interventions for Palestinian children and women
State of Palestine, 12 April 2016 – With Gaza still in ruins and tensions running high in the West Bank, Palestinian children rebuild resilience with education, play, psychosocial support and adolescent-led initiatives, as part of a cross-sectoral programme funded by Japan.
A Palestinian student uses water faucets installed at her school by UNICEF with funding from Australia
State of Palestine, 11 April 2016 – Many schools in the State of Palestine suffer from water shortages and have inadequate water and sanitation facilities. Thanks to a US$2 million donation from Australia, UNICEF and partners are rehabilitating water and sanitation infrastructure in schools across the West Bank and Gaza, while promoting handwashing and hygiene practices among students.
JABAILA, State of Palestine, 8 April 2016 – Sarah, 17, from Jabaila, Gaza, is one of 1,450 Palestinian students who were selected to attend an advanced training on mural painting techniques. “I enjoyed the activities and learnt a lot from it. I think that my school is more beautiful now,” she says.
“When I jump, I feel as if I were flying!” Reham, 14, a Palestinian student who participated in a long jump competition in Gaza
7 April 2016 – UNICEF and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education in Gaza organized two days of athletic activities for students to help raise awareness on the danger of explosive remnants of war (ERWs).
Rights awareness offers path to change for children in East Jerusalem
EAST JERUSALEM, State of Palestine, 29 March 2016 – When violence and fear take hold in a community, the voices of children - including their hopes and aspirations - should be heard to help them focus on what is possible, instead of dispair.
Turning Palestinian girls into youth entrepreneurs
AWARTA, State of Palestine, 24 March 2016 – While adolescents can be impacted by a range of social issues, they can also be taught to take action on them.
Protective accompaniment helps children reach school safely in Hebron’s troubled Old City
HEBRON, State of Palestine, 23 March 2016 – For six-year-old Rana•, going to school every morning is stressful. The little girl, who lives next to a checkpoint, has to walk past several settlements to access her school in Hebron's troubled Old City.
With Gaza still in ruins, children rebuild resilience with education and play
GAZA, State of Palestine, 22 March 2016 – Gaza's youngest have experienced three major military confrontations in six years, each bringing with it a wave of destruction and fear before receding and leaving behind the scars of trauma.
Safeguarding family health
20 February 2016 – What do we pack in our hygiene kits? Soap, towels, diapers, shampoo, toothpaste, tooth brushes, combs, laundry detergent, toilet paper, plastic garbage bags, disinfectant... in short: all of the essential supplies that the poorest families need to maintain their health and that of their children.
Extracurriculars for children in Gaza
“The 2014 school year was the most difficult one for me because it started right after the war. I could not focus on my lessons anymore and found it hard to study. Last year I took remedial classes in Arabic and Math, so I was able to catch up on the lessons I had missed. I had missed many because I was so shocked by what happened during the war in 2014 -- there were airstrikes close to my home and I was really afraid."
Postnatal home visits for the newborn child help improve survival in Gaza
GAZA, State of Palestine, 2 February 2016 - For Jamila, trying to rebuild her life after the 2014 conflict in Gaza has been challenging.
Powerful photos of Gaza’s children
State of Palestine, 3 January 2016 – Three photos from Gaza made it to the list of the 25 most powerful photos of the year of UNICEF Australia.
Midwives and mothers
State of Palestine, 17 December 2015 – 24-year-old Houda and her one-week-old baby daughter Farah receive the visit of midwives at their one-room home in Beit Lahia, Gaza. This is the first of three postnatal home visits which are part of a programme run by UNICEF with funds from Iceland.
Theater to help heal trauma
State of Palestine, 10 November 2015 – Palestinian children participate in a psychodrama activity in a Family Center of Shejaiya, a poor neighborhood which was partly destroyed during the summer 2014 conflict.
Accessing safe drinking water in Gaza
State of Palestine, 20 September 2015 – Accessing safe, drinking water will soon be a reality for families living in the south of Gaza. A seawater desalination plant funded by the European Union and built by UNICEF will serve 75,000 people living in Khan Younis and Rafah.
Care and support, confidence, and self-expression transform Gaza children’s outlook
GAZA, State of Palestine, 31 August 2015 – Salma, a 15-year old adolescent girl, lives in the Gaza Strip, where poverty is rampant and the threat of violence and political turmoil is a daily hazard. For the past 12 months, she has insisted on sleeping in her mother’s bed as she was too frightened to go to sleep alone after the 2014 escalation of conflict.
#51days51children: Children of Gaza
GAZA, State of Palestine, 26 August 2015 – One year on, Palestinian children in Gaza are still trying to recover from the devastating effects of 51 days of hostilities in 2014, compounded by the slow pace of reconstruction.
Practising parkour helps Fares, 15, and Fahed, 18, cope with life in Gaza.
Jumping into parkour: Two adolescents cope with life in Gaza
GAZA, State of Palestine, 6 August 2015 – Gazans continue to recover from the 51 days of conflict that killed 1,462 Palestinian civilians, a third of them children, between July and August 2014. For two adolescent boys, 15-year-old Fares and 18-year-old Fahed, practising parkour helps them cope with life in Gaza.
The children living in Gaza’s rubble
GAZA, State of Palestine, 8 July 2015 – A young girl and her family remain in their home, a year after it was destroyed in conflict, as reconstruction has barely begun in Gaza, and rebuilding shattered lives will likely take far longer.
Adolescents make positive changes in their community
KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza, 15 April 2015 – The Adolescents Make Difference’ initiative reached 1,000 adolescents across the Gaza Strip, with trainings on life skills, including critical thinking, innovation, cooperation and communication. It equipped them with emotional and physical wellbeing skills, and encouraged their positive engagement with the community around them.
Japanese grants help turn Palestinian schools into child-friendly environments
AL-KHADER, State of Palestine, 18 March 2015 – With funding from Japan, UNICEF rehabilitated 10 schools in some of the most vulnerable areas of the West Bank, in partnership with the Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education. One of these schools was Muna’s Al-Khader Basic School for Girls, located in a village home to some 12,000 Palestinians, close to Bethlehem.
Gaza’s children: Six months after the ceasefire
GAZA, State of Palestine, 25 Feb 2015 – 11-year-old Samar Barakat and 6-year-old Rosol lost their home in a blast during last year’s hostilities. The sisters, their mother and three other siblings now live with their grandfather. The girls still struggle to cope with the loss of their father who was killed during a blast that hit a United Nations-run school where their family was sheltering.
Violent sandstorm blowing across Gaza as temperatures drop.
Reality of Gaza destruction haunts families and children amid ceasefire
GAZA, State of Palestine, 28 July 2014 – More than one fourth of Gaza's residents were displaced during the latest conflict. The three-day ceasefire allowed families to visit their homes, but many had to return to collective shelters when the full extent of the damage to their houses became apparent.
No safe place for children in Gaza
GAZA, State of Palestine, 28 July 2014 – As the hostilities enter their twenty-first day, the number of children dying is growing. More than 1,000 Palestinians have been reported killed so far, of whom around 230 were children – more than 10 a day. The youngest child killed was only 3 months old.
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Gaza information in French
À Gaza, les enfants vivant dans les décombres
GAZA, État de Palestine, le 8 juillet 2015 – Une jeune fille et sa famille vivent toujours dans leur immeuble, un an après sa destruction lors du conflit. À Gaza, le travail de reconstruction commence à peine, et il faudra bien plus de temps pour reconstruire les vies brisées.
Six mois après le cessez-le-feu, les enfants de Gaza restent profondément traumatisés
GAZA, État de Palestine, 26 février 2015 – Six mois se sont écoulés depuis qu’une trêve précaire a mis fin à un nouvel épisode de violence qui a dévasté Gaza.
L'UNICEF fournit une aide d'urgence pour que les enfants de Gaza retournent à l’école
GENÈVE/AMMAN/GAZA, 9 septembre 2014 – L’UNICEF joue un rôle capital dans les préparatifs d'urgence menés pour la nouvelle année scolaire à Gaza. La rentrée a lieu ce dimanche.
Gaza information in Spanish
Los niños de Gaza viven entre los escombros
GAZA, Estado de Palestina, 8 de julio de 2015 – Un año después de que su hogar fuera destruido como consecuencia del conflicto armado, una niña y toda su familia aún siguen viviendo en el mismo lugar, ya que en Gaza las labores de reconstrucción apenas han comenzado. Y probablemente pase mucho tiempo más antes de que los afectados puedan volver a la vida normal.
Seis meses después del alto el fuego, las niñas y los niños de Gaza están atrapados por el trauma
GAZA, Estado de Palestina, 26 de febrero de 2015 – Tras haber perdido a su padre y su casa durante el último conflicto, dos niñas en Gaza luchan por asimilar el pasado y mirar hacia un futuro más brillante.
Superar la pérdida en los escombros de Gaza
GAZA, Estado de Palestina, 29 de septiembre de 2014 – Para una niña que perdió a su padre y a su hermana en el reciente conflicto de Gaza, regresar a la escuela es sólo un primer paso en un largo proceso de recuperación.
Gaza information in Arabic
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© UNICEF/NYHQ2014-0973/El Baba|
In the State of Palestine, women, men and children find refuge in a school shelter run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in the town of Rafah in southern Gaza.