The stagnation of the Middle East peace process, military occupation and economic collapse all constitute a serious humanitarian crisis for Palestinians and Israelis living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Ongoing violence and escalating poverty continue to have a detrimental affect on peoples’ lives and the lives of children in particular. Under current conditions the rights of children living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including their rights to survival, protection and to development, are being compromised.
The current construction of the 700 km Separation Barrier, which cuts significantly into Palestinian Territory, is contributing to a decline in the security situation. Children and their families have been cut off from accessing basic services such as health care facilities and schools. Further, their right to freedom of movement and to protection has been highly curtailed. Family members have been cut off from one another, and from their neighbours, both Palestinian and Israeli. Many farmers have been cut off from their land, and business owners from their sources of income. Increased poverty for these communities has had repercussions on family and community life.
Key Facts about Children living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
Approximately 1,200,000 children are affected by the crisis.
The Separation Barrier directly affects 30% of all Palestinians.
Since September 2002 thousands of children and their families have been displaced after their homes were damaged or destroyed due to violence, incursions, and the construction of the Separation Barrier.
It is estimated that 60-70% of Palestinians are unemployed.
465 Palestinian children have died and over 9,000 have been injured in the current conflict.
The World Bank estimates that 21% of Palestinians now live on less than US$23 per day.
Children have been prevented from attending schools for extended periods due to closures, curfews and insecurity.
Save the Children Response
Save the Children UK’s response to the crisis is founded on safeguarding children’s right to basic services (health and quality education), their right to life, security and protection. Through its programme of work, Save the Children advocates for:
Immediate protection of children from all sources of danger by the responsible and authorities.
Addressing the underlying reasons for the current low levels and quality of basic services.
With these aims in mind, Save the Children seeks to influence decision-makers such as representative in the UK Parliament, the UN Commission for Human Rights, the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to ensure that children’s rights are upheld.
Save the Children believes that every effort by these groups must be made to ensure: The provision of immediate protection of children from sources of danger. All children have access to quality basic services regardless of race, religion, gender or disability.
Save the Children supports these principles with its ongoing programme activities that include: Reporting to international committees (UNCRC, UNHCR) to inform them of the situation for children in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and urging them to fulfil their mandate in calling the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to account.
Facilitating work with children so that they are able to express their experiences of the current situation. This includes drama workshops, discussions and a television programme examining what the Separation Barrier means to Palestinian children.
Implementing projects that demonstrate to the Palestinian Authorities how education and health facilities can be improved to serve all children, particularly those who may face specific exclusion, for instance, children with disabilities.
Advocating that international donors reconsider policies that may impact negatively on the long term interests of children through their infrastructural support to the cantonment of the Territories.
Facilitating work with children, teachers and parents so that improvements to schools and kindergartens can be identified and implemented.
1 The current intifada is now entering its 4th year
2 UNICEF Donor Update 19th November, 2003
3 Approximately £1.34