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UN chief Guterres meets with women and youth in the State of Palestine



RAMALLAH, 30 August 2017 - United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres met with Palestinian women and adolescents yesterday as part of his first visit to the State of Palestine since taking office at the beginning of this year.
At the “One Stop Centre” in Ramallah which was established in April 2017 to provide comprehensive in-house services to survivors of violence and minors in conflict with the law, all under one roof, he spoke with a woman who is seeking to escape an abusive marriage and a boy who has benefited from alternatives to detention after a violent altercation with another child.

The center plays an important role in altering staggering statistics – one-third of married women in the West Bank and half in the Gaza Strip report being subjected to violence at home, but less than 1% have sought assistance. Four months after it first opened, the centre has already assisted more than 400 women and juvenile survivors of violence, with support from UN Women, UNICEF and UNDP.

The Secretary-General congratulated the Palestinian Civil Police and its UN partners for creating an impressive program that helps to protect women and children by providing them a safe space, as well as critical legal and mediation services. He noted that few countries have such programs.

 

Mr. Guterres also met with eight Palestinian adolescents and youth who told him about the challenges they face and their frustration at both the on-going occupation as well as the current political climate in the West Bank.

Fifteen-year-old Raghad, who lives in Hebron’s Old City, explained that she has had to cross Israeli military checkpoints on her way to school for the past nine years, and that she has become used to it. Twenty-two-year-old Mo’men, also from Hebron, said that he has never been to Jerusalem in his life, and has never had the opportunity to interact with Palestinian youth in Jerusalem or Gaza. He spoke of the negative coping behaviours in which adolescents engage, such as violence or substance abuse, of their psychosocial distress and their inability to fulfil their potential.

Sixteen-year-old Maya, who lives in East Jerusalem, explained that she has lost faith in politicians’ ability to support youth and make a positive change, while 20-year-old Raghad worried about young graduates who cannot start their lives because they do not have a job. Half of youth and university graduates in the State of Palestine are unemployed.

The Secretary-General commended all of them for their passion and courage. He encouraged them to be involved politically so as to serve the people. He also stressed the importance of establishing youth participation mechanisms to help young people make their voices heard.

“All of you described very tough realities, while demonstrating that it is still possible to have a positive perspective. You should not give up,” Mr. Guterres said.

All of the adolescents he talked to participated in UNICEF-supported programmes which help them build entrepreneurial skills and develop non-violent approaches to conflict resolution. The young people are part of the UNFPA-supported “Youth Peer Education Network”.

 

 

 
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