What is UNICEF in the State of Palestine?
UNICEF in the State of Palestine (UNICEF SoP) works to uphold the rights of children to access services and protection, from early childhood through to adolescence. Our objective is to ensure that every child in the West Bank – including East Jerusalem - and the Gaza Strip, irrespective of background or circumstance, has an equal chance to fulfil their potential.
Much progress has been achieved in Palestine, with some of the region’s best indicators for children in education and healthcare, for example. However, children and young people continue to face significant levels of violence at home and in schools, a lack of engagement opportunities, and high unemployment rates. A high number of grave violations of children’s rights continue to be documented, due to the continued occupation of Palestine and the long-standing conflict between Israel and State of Palestine.
UNICEF SoP works with partners to assess and understand the issues faced by children in Palestine, advocating for the protection of rights and equitable access to services, promoting innovation, and implementing programmes in four priority areas:
Child protection: Promote policies and expand access to services that protect all children, particularly those who are facing the most protection risks and/or are exposed to violence or exploitation, or are in contact with security forces and the law. Engaging all stakeholders and leading advocacy efforts for the protection of children’s rights and to end violence against children, UNICEF also supports public institutions and non-governmental agencies to provide access to quality psychosocial and other services, as well as protection activities.
Education: Strengthen systems and capacities to deliver high quality and relevant education to Palestinian children that equips them with knowledge and life skills to make the transitions from childhood to adulthood, from education to work, and to responsible and active citizenship. To assist children most exposed to violence and emergencies, UNICEF coordinates partners’ efforts to ensure safe access to schools and to protect education during crises.
Health and Nutrition: Improve access to quality child and maternal health services and promote appropriate infant and child nutrition and feeding practices to give each child the best chance in life. Because children living with disabilities or facing development delays are particularly vulnerable to missing out on services and care in Palestine, UNICEF SoP promotes early disability detection and access to services for those children and their families. Where necessary, due to crisis or lack of capacities, we provide supplies and immediate assistance to service providers to maintain the delivery of basic services.
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene: Assess gaps and coordinate action to ensure that all families and institutions, particularly those in vulnerable areas, have increased access to safe drinking water and sanitation. UNICEF reinforces the capacities of national institutions to plan and deliver sustainable water and sanitation services and, within this context, the national ability to respond to emergency water, sanitation, and hygiene needs.
Across these areas, UNICEF SoP has three cross-cutting priorities, which are key to accelerating progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and Palestine’s National Policy Agenda: 1) building national systems and capacities for cross-sectoral early childhood development, especially for infants and children with developmental delays and disabilities; 2) reduce violence against children; 3) promote adolescent participation and engagement.