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UN Goodwill Ambassadors visit traumatized children in Gaza

New York, Oct 15 2009 - United States actress Mia Farrow and Egyptian actor Mahmoud Kabil, both UN Children’s Fund Goodwill Ambassadors, today ended a two-day visit to Gaza where they witnessed first-hand the hardships children still face nine months after the three-week war between Israel and Hamas.

“The children appear traumatized,” Ms. Farrow said. “The teachers say that when they hear a loud noise they look to the sky and cry out and weep.  They don’t know what the future holds. They deserve better.”

The fighting killed more than 1,400 people, including at least 350 children, and injured over 5,000 people, among them 1,600 children.

Ms. Farrow entered from Israel through the Erez crossing point while Mr. Kabil crossed over from Egypt at Rafah to meet up in Gaza, which has been under virtual blockade for 28 months.

They heard testimony from children who are now forced to work in tunnels to support their struggling families. The tunnels are used to smuggle in goods that are otherwise unavailable in Gaza. Unemployment rates are above 40 per cent and eight out of 10 families in Gaza rely on some form of food assistance.

Ms. Farrow’s visit is part of a week-long trip to the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel, where she is meeting with officials, civil society organizations and children affected by conflict. She will go to Sderot in southern Israel which has been the target of rocket attacks from Gaza.

For Mr. Kabil, this is the second leg of a journey to the occupied Palestinian territory. He was in the West Bank during the month of Ramadan to show support for Palestinian children and families during the holy month.

“I am happy to finally be able to visit the children of Gaza and express my solidarity with their families for the suffering they are enduring on a daily basis,” he said. “The blockade and the recent fighting have left an indelible impact on children. Palestinian children have the same rights as all children everywhere and these rights need to be upheld.”

For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news

For more information:

Tamar Hahn, thahn@unicef.org; UNICEF Latin America and the Caribbean.

About UNICEF:

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
www.unicef.org/lac

 

 
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