UNICEF stresses the right of Palestinian children to access school without restrictions
South Hebron Hills, occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), 16 September 2011 (UNICEF) - UNICEF oPt Special Representative Jean Gough concluded this week a visit to Palestinian families in the South Hebron Hills, where children face tremendous challenges to accessing education.
In Beit Yatir, children told her how they have to cross a check point manned by Israeli Security Forces to and from their way to school every day. Human rights observers from The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) accompany the children on their journey in a bid to make the crossing, which can take up to one hour, easier. Palestinian families living behind the check point are surrounded by settlements on all sides and completely cut off from the rest of the West Bank by the Barrier. They live in total isolation in this “Seam Zone” which turns every simple task into a challenge: families need to negotiate the check point every time they want to leave their houses and buy food, fetch water or bring an elderly parent to the doctor.
“Every child has the right to education and to protection”, said Gough after listening to the children and their mothers. “They must be allowed to study without any restrictions, and to live their childhood in safety”, she said, adding that the human rights observers of EAPPI helped UNICEF report on infringements of these rights.
Gough also visited the village of Jinba, where families live in great poverty and where children have been repeatedly subjected to settler violence in their village and on their way to school. Many children are now in need of psychological support.
“Every year counts for these children,” said Gough, “we have to tap into local skills and knowledge to develop community-based education but also continue to act swiftly when children’s right to education and safety are violated”.
1) 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. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
2) UN OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) Hebron Officer Hamed Qawasmeh facilitated the Special Representative’s visit with EAPPI’s South Hebron Hill first permanent team.
3) The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) brings internationals to the West Bank to experience life under occupation. Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAs) provide protective presence to vulnerable communities, monitor and report human rights abuses and support Palestinians and Israelis working together for peace. EAs in the South Hebron Hills also escort children to school through the Beit Yatir checkpoint. When they return home, EAs campaign for a just and peaceful resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through an end to the occupation, respect for international law and implementation of UN resolutions. EAPPI is a programme of the World Council of Churches. It was established in 2002 in response to a call by the heads of Churches in Jerusalem.
Monica Awad - firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Adrian Raymond, EAPPI Communications Officer, +972 54 7379766 or +970 59 7027468. Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), World Council of Churches, Jerusalem. EAPPI Photo Library - - - EAPPI Facebook Group - - - www.eappi.org
Jane Backhurst, EAPPI, South Hebron Hills Team, email@example.com, +972 (0) 54 6293 051 or +972 (0) 59 9556 313.