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Malaysian Prime Minister launches fund for children in Gaza

© New Straits Times Malaysia
Malaysia's Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi presents a RM 320,000 contribution to UNICEF Representative to Malaysia and Special Representative to Brunei, Mr. Youssouf Oomar. The Prime Minister's wife, Datin Seri Jeanne Abdullah looks on.

PUTRAJAYA, 26 February 2009 -  Malaysia’s Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has launched a humanitarian fund to support actions by the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for children and their families who survived the recent conflict in Gaza.

Datuk Seri Abdullah, who is patron of the Humanitarian Fund for the Children of Gaza, believes that the fund is an opportune platform for Malaysians to show their support for children: "Whatever amount they give, it comes from their heart. It is very important. A lot of people would like to help."

Initiated by the Association of Wives of Ministers and Deputy Ministers (BAKTI), the Police Families Association (Perkep), the Armed Forces Family Welfare Association (BAKAT) and the Association of Wives and Women Civil Servants (Puspanita), the Fund has already raised RM 320,000 (US$ 89,136) from various donors. 

BAKTI, Puspanita, Perkep, BAKAT as well as the Executive Producer of the ‘Puteri Gunung Ledang the Musical’ Datin Seri Tiara Jacquelina each donated RM 50,000 (US$ 13,928) during the launch of the Fund, while Malaysia’s Inland Revenue Board contributed RM 70,263.55 (US$ 19,572).

The Prime Minister added that the fund will be run until the end of this year and would be used by UNICEF to nurse injured children, as well as to return the young into the education system. Joining him at the launch was his wife Datin Seri Jeanne Abdullah, who is also President of BAKTI. 

Getting children back to school

© UNICEF/NYHQ2009-0076/Iyad El Baba
Girls studying at the Omar Ben al-Khattab School in Beit Lahia (northern Gaza Strip). The partly damaged school has received UNICEF support and is now operating on double shifts to help more children to resume learning.

UNICEF Representative to Malaysia and Special Representative to Brunei, Mr. Youssouf Oomar, welcomed the Prime Minister’s commitment and support of UNICEF’s efforts to facilitate the return of hundreds of thousands of children to school in Gaza.

“We are truly grateful to the Prime Minister and the people of Malaysia for their trust in UNICEF. UNICEF is providing essential educational equipment and materials to re-establish learning and recreational activities, create safe environments, and help restore a sense of normalcy for children in Gaza,” said Mr. Youssouf. “The return to school provides an important opportunity for children to interact, play, rebuild their routines, and overcome distress.”

On 26 January, UNICEF supplied Gaza with 130 school-in-a-box kits, which include items such as exercise books, pens and pencils, to cater for 10,400 school-aged children. In addition, UNICEF provided 84 recreational kits, containing sports and other entertaining items, for 6,720 children, 42 Mathematics and 42 Science kits for 4,200 students. UNICEF has also supplied the Ministry of Education with 12,000 water bottles targeting an equal number of school students. UNICEF and Save the Children US are the lead agencies for education.

Children make up over half of the 1.4 million people in Gaza. Some 430 children were killed, and 1,855 children were injured during the 23-day conflict.

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NOTE TO EDITORS

UNICEF’s actions to restore education for children in Gaza will include:

a) Immediate after crisis Education in Gaza (US$ 2,022,300)
To ensure back to schools normality and children to continue their schooling immediately after the crisis in Gaza through:

  • Conducting repairs for 200 primary schools including replacing some school/classroom furniture and simple equipment or school tents;
  • Providing 40,000 students with stationary item such as pens, pencils, rulers in school bags;
  • Equipping 200-250 primary schools (40,000 students) in Gaza with teaching equipment;
  • Providing 150 Early Childhood Development (ECD) kits to benefit at least 5,000 pre-school children in 100 community centres or kindergartens;
  • Orienting 2,000 teachers on using remedial worksheets, and in improved teaching approaches and psycho-social counselling in emergency situations.

b) Back to School in Gaza (US$ 6,000,000)
Through provision of the most needed education supplies to 250 schools and 4,000 teachers, to return a sense of normality to the education system and ensure 50,000 students and 10,000 ECD children start learning again.


c) Psycho-social Support in Schools (US$ 1,500,000)
To create safe and protective spaces for children to bring back normality to their lives; and to support and maintain a productive learning environment through provision of psycho-social support in schools to benefit 40,000 children and 5,000 teachers.

 

 

 

 

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Video

24 January 2009:
UNICEF correspondent Chris Niles reports that children in Gaza are returning to school.
 VIDEO (You Tube). View


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