Children living in areas of Gaza hardest-hit during last year’s conflict are still showing signs of severe emotional distress, including high levels of bed wetting and nightmares. A new assessment by Save the Children found that:
• An average of 75% of children surveyed experience unusual bedwetting regularly.
• In one area, al-Shoka, nearly half the children interviewed wet the bed every night.
• Up to 89% of parents reported that their children suffer consistent feelings of fear, while more than 70% of children said they worried about another war.
• On average seven out of 10 children interviewed suffer regular nightmares.
During last year’s 51-day war, 551 children in Gaza were killed and 3,436 were injured, while an estimated 1,500 lost their parents. Many more were made homeless and saw their schools damaged or destroyed. In Israel, one child was also killed by rocket fire and 270 were injured.
David Hassell, co-country director, Save the Children, says: “The results of this survey are extremely alarming for those of us who work with children in Gaza.
“They have lived through events that would give even the most hardened adult nightmares. The continued blockade and threat of renewed conflict makes it very difficult for children to recover from the trauma they have experienced.”
A year on from the conflict, around 100,000 people are still homeless, while major reconstruction of health facilities, water networks and schools has yet to begin.
Save the Children’s Caroline Anning says: “Many children in Gaza have now lived through three wars in the past seven years, the last one notable for its brutality. They are emotionally and, in some cases, physically shattered.
“The world cannot sit by and watch while these children’s hopes for a better future are crushed by the blockade and the looming threat of another conflict. Political leaders on all sides should stop posturing and start acting – they need to work together to agree to a plan for a lasting peace deal that includes ending the blockade on Gaza.”
Save the Children believes the international community has a critical role to play in ensuring the welfare of children in Gaza. All children deserve homes, schools and opportunities – currently we are collectively denying these rights by our inaction.
Save the Children is calling on the international community to respond to the ongoing war on children by exerting all its diplomatic influence to bring an immediate end to the bloodshed and to get the warring parties to agree to long-term measures that will stop this senseless cycle of violence, including an end to the blockade. VOC