Children at risk in the Gaza conflict
In Gaza, a crisis for children
© © UNICEF SoP/Eyad Al Baba|
UNICEF Director of the Office of Emergency Programmes Manuel Fontaine (second left) speaks with UNICEF WASH Officer Zaidan Abu Zuhri (left) at the European Union-funded seawater desalination plant in the Gaza Strip,
More than two years since 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
Working with children to build peace in Palestinian communities
EAST JERUSALEM, State of Palestine, 6 February 2017 – A change in one child can transform a family, and the transformation of enough families can remake society – that is the premise of a UNICEF-supported programme that seeks to alter the overwhelming climate of violence in which Palestinian children live.
UNICEF and Finland sign grant agreement on non-violence project for Palestinian schools
EAST JERUSALEM, 23 December 2016 – Using a comprehensive approach, the project will challenge the use of violence and social disruption in Palestinian schools and communities by strengthening policies and practices to promote peaceful conflict resolution, positive discipline, and violence-free schools.
EU and UNICEF inaugurate Gaza’s largest seawater desalination plant
GAZA, State of Palestine, 19 January 2017 – The €10 million plant, funded by the European Union, has the capacity of producing 6,000 m3 of potable water daily to provide around 75,000 Palestinians with safe drinking water in the southern Gaza Strip—about 35,000 people in Khan Younis and 40,000 people in Rafah.
A bird’s eye view of Gaza
GAZA, State of Palestine, 13 January 2016 – As part of a campaign run by students who belong to 11 social media clubs which UNICEF created in Gazan schools, 110 students in 11 social media clubs are being trained in advocacy, campaigning on social media, photography and videography so they can express their views and advocate for their rights, in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Adolescents make a difference in their communities
GAZA, State of Palestine, 12 January 2016 – 50 adolescent-led initiatives supported by UNICEF include: creating a library out of recycled materials; building a waiting area for students from scratch; allowing people who cannot see to pick their dishes in restaurants; and helping students avoid allergies caused by chalk dust at school.
Bright and colourful school environments
GAZA, State of Palestine, 26 December 2016 – UNICEF helped turn this vision into reality -- 1,450 students from 145 schools across the Gaza Strip were trained by local artists and teachers in art and mural painting techniques. Students then painted more than 400 murals in schools throughout the area.
In Baherka camp, Palestinians live in limbo
BAHERKA CAMP, Iraq, 26 December 2016 – Baherka displacement camp, on the outskirts of Erbil, is hosting nearly 4,000 people, most of them displaced just over two years ago when ISIL entered Mosul. Among them are several Palestinian families who have been homeless — and stateless — for much longer. “The difference between the Syrians and us is that Syrians can leave. They can eventually go home. Palestinians in Iraq don’t have anything,” says Taha. He and his wife Basima were both born in Iraq, him in Basra, and her in Baghdad, but they don’t have passports because their parents were refugees who came here in the late 1940s. “We don’t have any rights,” he says. “People say bad things about us. They think that because we’re Palestinians we’re terrorists.”
Pediatric conference in Gaza
GAZA, State of Palestine, 9 December 2016 – Earlier this week, UNICEF organized a Pediatric Conference in the Gaza Strip. Over 400 Palestinian pediatricians from Gaza and the West Bank discussed the achievements made in the field of health and nutrition, as reflected in the positive trends observed in public health indicators. They exchanged ideas and experiences, and offered practical recommendations for the well-being of Palestinian children.
Information technology breaks barriers between Palestinian adolescents
EAST JERUSALEM, State of Palestine, 9 December 2016 – The Gaza blockade makes it impossible for Palestinians living there to engage with Palestinians living in the remainder of the Palestinian territory – the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The ‘Virtual Majilis’, an online exchange platform run by UNICEF, connects students in Gaza with students in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Students use online video conference systems to communicate with each other and overcome barriers such as distance and access restrictions.
Rebuilding schools in Gaza
SHEJAIYA, State of Palestine, 8 December 2016 – UNICEF Special Representative to the State of Palestine, June Kunugi, participated in a ceremony led by UNDP at Jamal Abdel Nasser School in Shejaiya, in the Gaza Strip.
Study on children with disabilities in the State of Palestine
RAMALLAH, State of Palestine, 5 December 2016 – UNICEF launched its new study, Every child counts: Understanding the needs and perspectives of children with disabilities in the State of Palestine.
Expressing themselves through art
JUHOR AD DEEK, Gaza, State of Palestine, 1 December 2016 – Children and mothers participate together in an expressive art session at a UNICEF-supported mobile family center.
Recreational activities for children
JUHOR AD DEEK, Gaza, State of Palestine, 28 November 2016 – Palestinian children participate in recreational activities at a UNICEF-supported mobile Family center in Juhor Ad Deek, in the Gaza Strip.
Sports activities for Palestinian children
AYJAL, Gaza City, State of Palestine, 26 November 2016 – Palestinian children participate in sport activities at a UNICEF-supported family center in Ayjal, Gaza City.
Decorating schools in Gaza
GAZA, State of Palestine, 23 November 2016 – 1,450 Palestinian students have turned into young artists to decorate 145 public schools across the Gaza Strip. The activity is part of a project aiming at rehabilitating and rebuilding the schools damaged in the 2014 hostilities, and at making them more child-friendly.
Visiting the seawater desalination plant
GAZA, State of Palestine, 21 November 2016 – Students from two public schools are seen visiting the new seawater desalination plant which UNICEF is building in the Gaza Strip thanks to a €10 million grant from the European Union.
Support for children in Gaza
JUHOR AD DEEK, Gaza, 19 November 2016 – Wassan, 4, is proud to present the drawing she produced with her elder sister at a UNICEF-supported mobile family center.
Equipping teachers with skills they can pass on to students
Gaza, 14 November 2016 – UNICEF is supporting the training of 40 school principals and teachers in leadership, entrepreneurship and social change, initiative management, time management and social media in the Gaza Strip.
Making puppets together
Gaza, 12 November 2016 – Mothers and children make finger puppets together in a UNICEF-supported family center in Gaza City. Then the children watch their mothers take turn and tell them stories using the puppets, with the support of a facilitator.
Life skills for parents and protection for children
GAZA CITY, State of Palestine, 10 November 2016 – 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 Japan.
“I dream of travelling the world and visiting all the historic sites in it”
GAZA CITY, State of Palestine, 9 November 2016 – Abed-Allah, 12, attends a life-skills session at the UNICEF-supported Al Ayjal family center in Gaza City.
Awareness-raising on early childhood development
JABAILA, State of Palestine, 7 November 2016 – Palestinians in Gaza contributed to awareness-raising on the importance of early childhood development (ECD), by participating in pre-testing of a film on the early years of a child.
An opportunity for children to exercise their right to play
EAST JERUSALEM, State of Palestine, 3 November 2016 – UNICEF supports a Social Cohesion and an Early Childhood Development programmes with partners at Dar Al Aytam School in East Jerusalem.
Water and sanitation for schools
HUWARA, State of Palestine, 26 October 2016 – Ms Marcia Pius, Head of Australian Representative Office, visits Eqab Mofadi Secondary school for Girls in Huwara, near Nablus in the West Bank, which benefited from the construction of water and sanitation infrastructure as part of a UNICEF project funded by Australia.
Protecting children from violations and abuse in Gaza
GAZA, State of Palestine, 21 October 2016 – After being forced to work at a young age and living through years of conflict in Gaza, Ahmad suffers from emotional and psychological distress. With the assistance of UNICEF-supported family centres, he’s finally getting the help he needs to begin recovering.
Mobile family center supports displaced children
GAZA, State of Palestine, 16 October 2016 – UNICEF is providing psychosocial support and child protection services for vulnerable Palestinian children through a network of 28 community-level family centers, some mobile, across the Gaza Strip. The center in Beit Hanoun, housed under a tent, was established close to families who have lived in caravans since their houses were destroyed in the 2014 hostilities, two years ago.
Meet Baby Walid, the 2,000,000th person in Gaza
RAFAH, State of Palestine, 13 October 2016 – Born on 9 October in Rafah, baby boy Waleed has become the two millionth person born in the Gaza Strip, which has now two million residents. The 2,000,001st person, a girl named Lana Ayad, was born shortly afterwards.
Immunization, a national pride and success story
State of Palestine, 9 October 2016 – Since 1994, the Palestinian Ministry of Health has been working to harmonise and improve the expanded programme on immunization (EPI) with support from UNICEF and WHO. Multiple vaccines are now delivered to refugee and non-refugee children alike, reaching even the most remote, marginalized communities, like here in Wadi al-Faw, a small herding community located in Area C of the West Bank.
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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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.