West Bank and Gaza Strip
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Violence in Gaza and Southern Israel Threatens Innocent Children
Call on the UN to do all it can to get a ceasefire in place.
Conflict in Israel and Gaza
Since the outbreak of violence between Israel and Gaza in early July, the conflict has intensified and is having a devastating impact for children on both sides of the border. Children in Israel have also been affected, as rockets have fallen in many areas there and caused them to feel extreme stress and uncertainty. Until a permanent agreement is reached that ensures both Palestinian and Israeli children can live without fear, the numbers of those killed, injured or displaced will keep rising. With 43% of Gaza's territory affected by evacuation warnings or declared "no-go zones." the options for shelter for those displaced are limited. Over 100,000 people have sought temporary refuge in emergency shelters in Gaza; the conflict has also destroyed vital infrastructure including schools, medical facilities, and water and sanitary services.
The Impact on Children
Children are always among the most vulnerable in any emergency. Children in Gaza are reported to be experiencing heightened distress. Our teams on the ground in Gaza report that children are at great risk of becoming traumatized after hearing and witnessing terrifying scenes. Children and families in southern Israel are also terrified by the hundreds of rockets that have landed in Israel.
This emergency comes at a time when many families in Gaza have seen their capacity to cope diminish greatly, given soaring unemployment, a weak economy, years of blockade and frequent conflicts. About 80% of the Gaza population already depends on humanitarian aid.
How We Are Helping
As of today, Save the Children is delivering medical aid, and providing children with psychosocial support. We have already reached over 1,300 family members in Gaza. We are likely to expand our operations in the coming days, although the intensity of the conflict makes this very difficult and dangerous for our staff on the ground. We have provided our partners with pre-positioned hygiene kits for infants and families. We are also using our global voice for children to Call for an immediate cease-fire and an end to violence that has caused immense suffering to children and their families on both sides. We call for parties to address the root causes of violence that has left people in Gaza and in Israel caught in a cycle that must stop once and for all. We know that only a negotiated agreement between all parties to the conflict will bring about a lasting difference: this must tackle the long-term causes of this conflict and promote dignity and security for both Israelis and Palestinians.
As the security situation eases, we are prepared to expand our response in Gaza to protect children and provide families with shelter, water and other essential supplies. We also plan to address sanitation, hygiene, health, nutrition, food security and education concerns. Israeli authorities already have the capacity and ability to care for their civilians. They have not, as of yet, requested child-specific support from Save the Children. However, should there be humanitarian needs unmet in Israel, we are ready to respond.
Our Work in West Bank and Gaza Strip
Save the Children is one of the largest U.S. nongovernmental organizations working in the West Bank and Gaza addressing the immediate humanitarian and long-term development needs of children and adults. With over 30 years of experience on the ground, Save the Children is committed to building the capacity of and empowering our local partners to design, implement, sustain and monitor local development programs over the long term.
Children and their families living in the West Bank and Gaza are among the Middle East's most vulnerable populations. The health of children is particularly at risk and the World Health Organization has expressed concern over the state of public health care in the West Bank and Gaza. Food insecurity is also on the rise; girls and boys under the age of five are particularly vulnerable with one in 10 suffering from stunting. Unemployment among Palestinians is also steadily increasing and currently stands at around 23 percent.
Israel has a very strong social services system that meets the needs of most of the children in that nation, as well as a robust emergency response program. Save the Children has an early childhood development program for children in need in the Nazareth community, as well as a long-term development project in Northern Israel.
In the West Bank and Gaza, Save the Children implements programs in the areas of education, economic opportunities and psychosocial health. In addition, our work in humanitarian assistance, child protection and youth development are crucial crosscutting themes in our programs.
Economic Opportunity: Our economic opportunity programs increase the skills, knowledge and resources of youth and young women so that they can participate in economic activities. Our INJAZ program — “Achievement” in Arabic — helps youth to bridge the important gap between school and work by providing them with career counseling, vocational and life skills training and technology education. Employment generating projects support poor families with short-term employment and income resources, which provide some relief from the economic hardships they face as well as help improve local living conditions by enhancing services and facilities.
Child Protection: Save the Children is a lifeline for children at risk. Our groundbreaking psychosocial programs help children cope with stress and build the capacity of families and communities to support children's psychosocial well-being. These initiatives also increase the capacity of local organizations to meet the needs of children and help create sustainable programs to promote their well-being.
Watch a video about access to quality healthcare in the Gaza Strip
Last Updated on October 2014