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UNICEF provides emergency support to get Gaza’s children back in school

GENEVA/AMMAN/GAZA, 9 September 2014 - UNICEF is playing a key role in urgent preparations for the new school year in Gaza, which begins this Sunday.

The resumption of classes in 395 government-run schools was delayed as a result of the brutal 50-day conflict with Israel that ended in a ceasefire on August 26th.

Over the coming week UNICEF will focus on;

  • Ensuring children displaced by fighting, or whose schools suffered heavy damage are able to join another school in their neighbourhood.
  • Immediate repairs and cleaning of schools that were used to shelter families displaced by the violence.
  • Planning and organizing a week of special recreational sessions for all schools, allowing trained staff to identify children most seriously traumatized by the conflict -- and refer  them for specialized support.  
  • Procuring and distributing school bags, stationery, teaching supplies, school uniforms and shoes. 

“Children have suffered appalling losses as a result of the conflict,” said Pernille Ironside, UNICEF’s Chief of Gaza Field Office. “That’s why it’s so vital that we get as many children as possible back into school immediately, so the healing process can begin in a more familiar environment.”

For some children, the return to class will not be easy.

“I am very sad to go back to school and check on my friends,” said 17-year old Hanadi, who is now living with her family in a school shelter in Gaza city. I do not know if they are missing or still alive. I am very sad and I don’t know how I will go back to school. I am not in a studying state of mind. ”

Others, like 16 year-old Sami, said getting back to school was a sign that some kind of normality was returning.

“For me, school is my second home.… It feels good to be back. ”

At least 501 children were killed in Gaza during the conflict, and over 3,370 were injured. According to the Ministry of Education, 26 government schools were completely destroyed, and at least 207 others (including 75 run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA) suffered varying degrees of damage.

“UNICEF and its partners will be playing a full part in the longer-term reconstruction of schools and the rest of the education infrastructure,” said Ironside. “But for that we will need donors to step forward with the necessary funds.”

Overall, UNICEF’s Back to School campaign is budgeted at just over $16 million until the end of 2014.


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do.  Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

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For more information:
Geneva, Christophe Boulierac, UNICEF Geneva Tel: +41 793030541, cboulierac@unicef.org
Monica Awad, UNICEF in Jerusalem Tel: +972 54 778 7605, mawad@unicef.org
Simon Ingram, UNICEF Middle East North African Regional Office +962 79 590 4740, singram@unicef.org
Najwa Mekki, UNICEF New York Tel: +1 917 209 1804, nmekki@unicef.org




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