PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES EMERGENCY APPEAL
THE IMPACT OF THE CONFLICT ON CHILDREN
Right To Play is extremely concerned by the recent violence in the Palestinian Territories and Israel. We fear for the safety of our teams in Gaza and the West Bank, and for that of the children, youth, teachers, and coaches we work with. The recent ceasefire of May 21 is fragile, and violence could erupt again all too easily. Even if the ceasefire holds, there will be lasting effects of the conflict on children’s education and mental health.
Right To Play has been working in Gaza and the West Bank since 2003 to increase access to quality education and provide psychosocial support for children and youth. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) has identified these as critical humanitarian needs for Palestinian children.
UNOCHA reports that up to 66 children have been killed in Gaza since May 10, and scores more have been injured. The conflict has destroyed residences and businesses, and forced an estimated 107,000 people, including many children, to flee their homes. 58 schools and educational institutions have been damaged by air strikes.
“It is clear that that while the war continues, education will not be provided at all, neither face-to-face nor through distance learning,” says Jamil Sawalma, Country Director for Right To Play in the Palestinian Territories. “When this war ends, children will have to deal with the fact the schools are no longer safe. The psychological damage caused by the war will also decrease children’s ability to engage in meaningful learning. These damaging experiences could stay with children for the rest of their lives.”
RESPONDING TO THE CRISIS
Right To Play’s work in the Palestinian Territories supports the education and well-being of children, especially those with learning and physical disabilities. These children are extremely vulnerable in a crisis. During the conflict, our immediate response involved working with local partners to confirm the location of the children in our programs, sharing messages and information about safe evacuation protocols through SMS, and helping children cope with their distress.
We will be collaborating with local partners to rebuild in the wake of the conflict, based on their needs and UN humanitarian priorities, including providing mental health support and restoring school operations.
Maximizing the speed and scale of our response will require the contribution of loyal supporters like you so that children and their families in the Palestinian Territories can receive the urgent humanitarian assistance they need.
Major tasks ahead include:
- Assessing the mental health status of children in the Palestinian Territories in the wake of the crisis and providing them with “mental health first aid” in the immediate aftermath of the ceasefire.
- Creating a rapid mobile response team who can reach displaced children and families to provide them with mental health support and resource kits to cope with grief, loss, and trauma.
- Assisting the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to rebuild schools that were damaged and destroyed during the conflict.
- Helping children with physical disabilities to replace their assistive devices and return to school.
No child should ever have to fear for their life or their safety, or to endure the lasting trauma caused by conflict. We must do everything we can to protect these children, their families, and their futures. Your support can play a critical role in aiding their recovery from the conflict’s effects.