Save the Children: Four in Five Gaza Children Suffer ‘Emotional Distress’ from Israeli Attacks, Siege

Palestinian girl in Gaza joins funeral of her brother, Mahmoud Talaba, 15 who was killed in Israeli strike at the Zaytoun neighborhood. (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, the Palestine Chronicle)

The children of Gaza are suffering from widespread ’emotional distress’ from fifteen years of living under Israeli blockade, as well as repeated attacks by Israeli forces, according to NGO Save The Children.

The research, published on Wednesday, found the mental well-being of children, young people and caregivers in Gaza has dramatically deteriorated since a similar study in 2018, with the number of children reporting emotional distress increasing to 80% from 55%.

The report, titled ‘Trapped’, found a huge increase in children who reported feeling fearful (84% compared to 50% in 2018), nervous (80% compared to 55%), sad or depressed (77% compared to 62%) and grieving (78% compared to 55%). It also found that more than half of Gaza’s children have contemplated suicide and three out of five are self-harming.

It is now more critical than ever that the government of Israel lifts the blockade of the Gaza Strip, and that local authorities, the international community and donors support the rapid strengthening of child protection and mental health support services for affected children, Save the Children said.

In the past 15 years, children in the Gaza Strip have endured six major moments – five escalations in violence and the COVID-19 pandemic – as well as a life-limiting land, air, and sea blockade imposed by the government of Israel. Children make up 47% of Gaza’s population of two million, with over 800,000 having never known life without the blockade.

As well as physical harm, economic deprivation and lack of access to essential services such as healthcare, the blockade has sparked a mental health crisis for children and young people, today’s research shows.

Save the Children called for the government of Israel to take immediate steps to lift the blockade of the Gaza Strip within the framework of UN Security Council Resolution 1860 (2009), and on the international community to urgently call for Israel to take these steps, along with bringing an end to the ongoing occupation and work with all parties to create conditions for renewed talks between the parties to the conflict towards creating a just solution.

(WAFA, PC, Social Media)

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