Children at risk in the Gaza conflict
In Gaza, a crisis for children
© UNICEF SoP/Eyad El Baba|
Storytime for children at a mobile family centre in Al Malalha, a very poor neighbourhood in Gaza City. The centers, run by UNICEF with support from Japan, offer a ‘one-stop’ facility providing a variety of support, from child protection services to hygiene awareness.
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
Reaching out to children through mobile family centers
GAZA, State of Palestine, 7 October 2016 – To better identify and reach the most vulnerable Palestinian children, UNICEF is providing psychosocial support and child protection services through a network of 28 community-level family centers across the Gaza Strip, with funding from the Government and people of Japan.
Gaza students mark World Teachers’ Day
GAZA, State of Palestine, 5 October 2016 – Students in the UNICEF-supported social media club in Gaza’s Al Karmel Secondary School expressed their gratitude to their teachers, who help them learn despite obstacles like crowded classrooms and lack of adequate educational facilities. They also interviewed some of their teachers about their roles and the challenges they face in the Gaza Strip.
Water for a small herding community
IBZIQ, State of Palestine, 6 October 2016 – Ibziq was one of 90 communities without access to piped water, until UNICEF, with funding from the Government and people of Japan and together with partners, started providing safe drinking water and hygiene services by connecting houses to the water network, trucking water, providing water storage facilities, building sanitation facilities and promoting hygiene education in schools and communities.
Overcoming distance and closure in Gaza
State of Palestine/Qatar, 5 October 2016 – Students from Gaza and Qatar participated in UNICEF's 'Virtual Majlis', meeting twice a week using video conference facilities to discuss the challenges they face in their daily lives and possible solutions. The programme helps them to challenge preconceptions and stereotypes, develop a deeper understanding of their different cultures, and engage in creative and critical thinking.
Opportunities for Palestinian adolescents to become agents of change
GAZA, State of Palestine, 2 October 2016 – Honourable Keiichi Koshimizu, Secretary of Japan’s Parliamentary League for UNICEF, and Honourable Toshiko Abe, Member of the House of Representatives of Japan, visiting a UNICEF-supported adolescent project in the Gaza Strip that offers opportunities for Palestinian adolescents to improve their entrepreneurial and civic engagement skills.
Providing safe water to a herding community in the West Bank
SHAWAREH, West Bank, State of Palestine, 29 September 2016 – Honourable Keiichi Koshimizu, Secretary of Japan’s Parliamentary League for UNICEF, and Honourable Toshiko Abe, Member of the House of Representatives of Japan, help distribute safe drinking water in Shawawreh, a poor herding community located near Bethleem in the West Bank.
French MPs learn about child protection and education in East Jerusalem
EAST JERUSALEM, State of Palestine, 28 September 2016 – French Members of Parliament visited several projects supported by UNICEF to help Palestinian children access their rights to protection and education.
A visit to UNICEF-supported family centers in Gaza
AL DARAJ, Gaza, State of Palestine, 24 September 2016 – Honourable Keiichi Koshimizu, Secretary of Japan's Parliamentary League for UNICEF, and Honourable Toshiko Abe, Member of the House of Representatives of Japan, visited one of Gaza’s 28 family centers, which are supported by UNICEF and funded by the Government and people of Japan. They offer a ‘one-stop’ facility where vulnerable children and families can access holistic child protection services in their communities.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.