Dr Al Fara will talk about the desperate need to help children in Gaza traumatised by war, and siege and seeing their parents and wider families devastated by Israeli aggression.
The grave situation in Gaza
The Gaza Strip is the most densely populated region in the world. Over 80 per cent of its people are refugees and their descendants, expelled from Palestine in the 1948 war that established the state of Israel. The majority of the 1.8 million residents are under the age of 15.
Israel’s attacks on Gaza in 2008/9 killed 1,473 Palestinians. Israel’s 2014 bombardment, lasting 51 days, reduced entire neighbourhoods to rubble and killed at least 2,100; of whom 539 were children.
According to UNICEF, 373,000 children in Gaza suffer from some degree of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Additionally, 11,000 were injured, one third with permanent disabilities and more than 18,000 Palestinian homes were destroyed. Israel’s siege and the periodic bombardments of Gaza have prevented people rebuilding their lives. Many still live in tents and makeshift homes. Water and electricity are still only available for a few hours a day. For schools, hospitals, workshops, farms and homes to be restored Palestinians need international solidarity.
Khuza’a is a town of 10,000 inhabitants in the south east of the
Gaza Strip. It is situated only 500 metres from the border with Israel. In the 2009 attack, it was reported the Israeli army bulldozed houses in Khuza’a with their residents still inside, and civilians were shot when carrying white flags.
These accounts were corroborated by the Israeli human rights organisation, B’Tselem. Khuza’a was one of the three areas that suffered particularly badly during the 2014 Israeli attack on the
Gaza Strip. Hundreds of its civilians were killed and large areas of the town were wiped out. Some residents were used as human shields by the invading Israeli army. As a result, thousands of children are still traumatised and in need of psychological help.
Khuza’a is about six kilometres from the Never Stop Dreaming Project, which has been supported Sheffield PSC for many years.
It will manage and support the new project, with the help of the charity, Middle Eastern Children’s Alliance (MECA). Sheffield’s Yemeni community raised £9,600 towards the Centre’s construction, and a resident of Khuza’a has donated the
land for the building to be constructed on. The building work will be
finished by the Spring of 2018. The existing staff from the Never Stop Dreaming Project, that is already involved with the local community, will be provided with additional training to support children with post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Thanks for reading this. Please do come to our meeting