(Part 1 here)
In my investigation into why UNICEF over looks Palestinian child abuse there is finally some movement on their website addressing the word “violence.” I have kept up my many attempts to contact Monica Awad and Catherine Weibel and there has been continued silence on their part to maintain a dialogue. I’m hoping since it was respectful, they will answer me. A well meaning dialogue that would include my traveling to their offices in Shuafat in east Jerusalem to get some answers.
In the meantime, UNICEF has finally updated their page on the current post-2014 Gaza war situation for children in that region. It says that recovery is slow since the August ceasefire. They are reporting basic needs such as food, water and hygiene are substantial but more than 300,000 children are in need of psychological and emotional support. Nothing more is written on their emotional well being and if this damage is actually PTSD. There is only mention of 258 schools and kindergartens damaged and 26 schools beyond repair. UNICEF is also looking to provide nutrition and the restoration of access to water. Fruits and vegetables are delivered daily too.
No mention of the possible psychological damage inflicted on these children from Hamas placing rockets in the UNRWA schools or children being placed by or near rocket launchers. No mention of children forcibly detained in buildings by Hamas as human shields. No mention of children suffering emotional turmoil at the loss of family members.
There is, however, one tiny mention that UNICEF is providing child protection programs. It is unclear what type of protection they are providing. Are they removing children from homes where terrorists reside? Are they providing psychologists for therapeutic purposes or is it volunteers delivering board-games door to door so children have something to play with?
UNICEF falls short in mentioning that Hamas is entirely to blame for the economic blockade they put on Israel since taking control of Gaza in 2007. Gaza farmers saw an Israel that allowed tractors to let them farm their own food and boost the economy. The export of foods between Gaza and Israel would boost health and economy as noted by Tahseen Al-Saqqa, Marketing Director of Gaza Agriculture. Again, no mention that it is Israel doing more than Gaza leaders to help the well being of Gazans affected from last year’s war.
So many questions need answering, and it’s impossible to get any answers from the Jerusalem office. Here are their goals for 2015 which is soon coming to a close:
UNICEF and partners plan for 320,000 people to have access to water, improved hygiene. Is Israel including water bottles for drinking and bathing in their weekly aid delivery? If so, UNICEF is not mentioning it.
170,000 children (50% girls) and caregivers (I think that means parents and/or guardians?) benefit from protection and/or psychological support activities. This sounds very evasive. What exactly is the nature of this benefit?
250,000 children and 100,000 women have access to life saving medicine and consumables. It is unclear if this is due to Israel allowing Gazans to come to Israeli hospitals or if doctors from around the globe have offered their services to heal the sick in Gaza.
This is all very evasive. I hope for a peaceful resolution and dialogue. in the meantime, my part III excursion to Shuafat is in the early stages of planning.
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