UNICEF plays the key role for Gazan kids to begin new school year

UNICEF is helping displaced children in Gaza smile and resume hope by organizing recreational activities in shelters. (Photo - UNICEF, Loulou d'Aki)16 September 2014 - The devastating 50-day conflict has forced the new academic year in the Gaza Strip to begin three weeks late – on 14 September. Speaking to reporters in Geneva, UNICEF spokesperson Christophe Boulierac emphasized that more than 500 children had died, over 3,350 suffered injuries and many others were secluded at home during the fighting.

UNICEF together with United Nations are in urgent preparations for new academic year. “The resumption of classes is vitally important in the healing process to help children regain a sense of security, normalcy and stability in a safe and familiar environment,” stressed Mr. Boulierac.

In order to ensure the start of new academic year for kids, UNICEF’s team on the ground will be focusing on four key areas:

  • Coordination to ensure that children displaced by the fighting, or whose schools suffered heavy damage, are able to join a school in their neighbourhood;
  • Carrying out immediate repairs and cleaning on schools that were used to shelter families displaced by the violence;
  • Planning and organization of a week of special recreational sessions for all schools, designed to allow trained staff to identify children who have been more seriously traumatized by the conflict – and then refer them for specialized support;
  • Procurement and provision of school bags, school stationery and teaching aids; and school uniforms and shoes to assist priority families who are vulnerable.

Businesses, livelihoods and assets of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Gaza have been affected in the recent conflict, which will have significant long-term consequences for growth and development. For some kids it will be very difficult to start new school year and many of them needs psychological help.

UNICEF estimated that at least 219 schools have been damaged by Israeli airstrikes, while 22 were completely destroyed. To demonstrate the extent of the damage in Gaza, Ironside estimated that it could take up to 18 years to rebuild the 17,000 housing units that were damaged in the conflict and in light of the ongoing blockade of the region limiting the movement of goods and people. The overall death toll in Gaza has exceeded 2,000 since Israel’s government launched operation Protective Edge on July 8.

Meanwhile today, the Deputy Prime Minister of the State of Palestine, Mohammad Mustafa, and UN Humanitarian Coordinator James W. Rawley, released the updated Gaza Crisis Appeal, which focuses on addressing the urgent humanitarian needs of Palestinians in Gaza.

The 2014 Gaza Crisis Appeal requests $551 million in support of the vulnerable population of the Gaza Strip affected by the conflict. It focuses on displaced persons, the injured, the elderly, children, and women, as well as farmers and fishermen who have lost their livelihoods.

The Appeal includes the provision of food assistance and basic supplies; expanding access to health, water and education; and meeting the protection needs of the population, including psychosocial support. Assistance will be provided by the Government, UN agencies, and international and local non-governmental organizations.

More information:

UN News Centre

UNICEF Middle East and North Africa

Prepared by: Karolina Kaušylaitė