We have been hearing from Dalia, our Regional Coordinator. She is not in Gaza, but her family are. Here, her brother Omar, a health support worker, sends us a report. He tells us about the NGO Youth Council, and their continued help for the children. Omar supplied the pictures too, which shows something affirmative can still happen in Gaza. This is dated Sunday 11 February.
GAZA IS NO LONGER VALID TO LIVE IN
“This is what the humanitarian organizations say.
It’s 127 days since the conflict began. More than 28K Palestinian people are killed, 70% children and women.
1.5 million internally displaced people live in 20% of the total Gaza Strip size. The suffering is unimaginable.
2.3 million (nearly 50% children) are seeking to live day-to-day despite the circumstances.
Many international organizations have hurried to provide aid, especially medical help. They are working in extraordinary situations doing dozens of life-saving surgeries. And the attacks on civilians and children are still ongoing.
Some reports estimate that ONE in TEN children has lost one of their limbs.
If a child is lucky enough to survive the attacks, many other factors might kill them. There’s no infrastructure.
- NO clean water to drink or shower.
- NO food for nutrition.
- NO heat for warmth.
- NO health care support.
- NO fuel to move away trash and sewage, and much else.
More than four months without schools. Children’s right to learn and play has been buried. More than 14,000 children have been killed during the war.
Living in crowded camps doubles the suffering of children. The psychological health of children is at the lowest level. This reflects in their daily lives now and will a long time ahead.
Youth Councils is a Palestinian voluntary team across the Gaza Strip. More than 1500 volunteers with leadership and pioneering skills believe in the ability of youth to bring about positive change in society.
Since 7 October, the Youth Councils have been working in the field with local and international partners. They provide aid, and activities in displacement centres. This targets children to minimize the psychological damage. 250 volunteers participate in the recreational and psychological relief activities including play, drawing, singing.
Over 50,000 children have been reached with the Youth Councils activities. Children have been allowed for a while at least, to express themselves.
Soundos, a 13 year-old child, lost her home and has been displaced three times. Now she lives in a tent with seven family members,
“For a moment, I can think the war is over. I wish these activities would never end. So we could play forever.”
Ahmed, 9 years, has lost many family members and friends,
“I hope to play with my friends again, even if I know they are in a better place near God. I want to go back again to my class. And I promise not to be a troublemaker anymore!”
During the war, the Youth Councils organization has lost many members. Their heroic stories will be saved and retold to young people around the world.
Gaza’s people deserve a better life.”
Currently, the building planned for the Children of Peace School is still standing. And our colleagues in the Palestinian Nurses Association have told us they are safe too. But the university where our 14 Gaza nurses have been trained is war damaged. More detail as soon as we have it.
This is all deeply personal for us. We can only extend our sympathy to Dalia and her family. We pray for them. Over recent years Dalia has given us wonderful insights about life in Gaza.
The children on both sides, the children of conflict, are our special concern. There is massive trauma which will last a generation.
Please support our work for peace.
NOW IS THE TIME – TO HELP
NOW IS THE TIME – TO DONATE
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It is a painful time for us all but we will hold to our principles and resolve in our pursuit of peace, justice and the protection of the children.
Thank you for your continued support. It means so much.
BLIND HATRED LEADS US ALL INTO A MUCH DARKER PLACE.
We thank Omar al-Najjar for his report. It shows the resilience and courage of the Palestinian people. It’s gratifying that Gazan children are still supported through play and education in spite of the horrors they have witnessed.
We can only call for an immediate ceasefire and the resumption of water supplies, medication and fresh food in the name of humanity.
Richard Martin FRSA, President and Founder, Children of Peace.
THE NEWS PAGE HAS COMMENTARY IN DETAIL.
WHAT WE DO – AND MESSAGES OF SUPPORT
Children of Peace is a non-partisan charity organization for Israeli and Palestinian children, aged 4 – 17, and their communities. Our aim is a shared spirit and well-being through arts, education, health and sports. Working for peace, building trust, friendship and reconciliation. So future generations might live peacefully side-by-side. We don’t take sides.
UK Home Secretary
"The UK’s longstanding position on the Middle East Peace Process is clear and has not changed: we support a negotiated settlement leading to a safe and secure Israel living alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian state; based on 1967 borders with agreed land swaps, Jerusalem as the shared capital of both states, and a just, fair, agreed and realistic settlement for refugees.
The UK shares your commitment to helping build understanding between people on both sides of the conflict, including engaging in people-to-people work to bring together different communities. This includes promoting a more positive portrayal of one another to contribute to building the conditions needed for peace."
"As your organization has recognized, children are often overlooked victims of violent conflict, and too few efforts are focused on their particular needs. Generations of Israeli and Palestinian children have grown up with peace as an elusive dream. Supporting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process requires grassroots reconciliation through the mobilization of non-governmental organizations such as Children of Peace. I wish Children of Peace the best success in all of its endeavors as it continues to grow."
“For those of us who want to see a secure and viable state of Israel alongside a secure and viable state of Palestine, it is clear that projects which help to foster trust between different communities are an important way to encourage peaceful co-existence.
Children of Peace’s work not only helps to break down some of the stereotypes and fears that characterise the conflict in Israel and Palestine, but gives young people the chance to make friends and meet role models who can help them see things from a different perspective.”
The violence against Israelis and Palestinians hurts children in both communities – with an increase in post-traumatic stress, morbidity, nightmares. Children of Peace carries out urgent work with our partners – protecting and supporting children. Please support our work and help the #childrenofconflict.
Photo credit: Lyle Hastie - Unsplash