Israeli policies displacing children in rural areas 27Oct09 October 28, 2009

Ma’an New Agency -  27 October 2009


Intolerable living conditions in the West Bank and Gaza are driving families to abandon their land and homes, displacing children and resulting in low-quality living situations, a Save the Children UK report warned Tuesday.

The report warned of the danger of children being driven from their homes, over and above their usual warning of the detrimental effects of home demolitions on children and families.

The report found families in areas including most of the rural West Bank and the Gaza border area suffer from daily shortages of food and water, high unemployment, financial insecurity, family separation with relatives working and living in cities where they can find work, and children unable to go to school because of travel difficulties or the necessity that they work agricultural land or herd animals as heads of households are away.

“We always knew that life was tough in these areas, but this new research has shown just how bad things are. Many families we spoke to were at breaking point,” Country Director for Save the Children UK Salam Kanaan said. “Without a secure future, children’s lives are blighted. Constant fear of upheaval, combined with a daily struggle for basics, has left children depressed and traumatized.”

According to the report, almost half of Palestinians living in high-risk areas have been forced from their homes since the start of the second Intifada in 2000.

“The survey highlights a pattern of extreme neglect and isolation of the Palestinian communities,” a statement from the group said.

Some of the alarming statistics include:

Only 37% of people living in high-risk areas have enough to eat, compared with 70% of people living elsewhere.

In the surveyed areas of the West Bank, 92% of families have no access to healthcare, compared to 34% in the rest of the occupied territory.

Only 2% of people in the surveyed areas of the West Bank have access to sanitation, compared with 61% outside the area.

In Gaza, only 9% of families living in or near the Buffer Zone said they felt safe and secure, compared with 55% outside of the area.

The only way to ensure appropriate assistance gets to families in border and agricultural areas, the report said, is for Israel to “halt actions that result in displacement, including the demolition of Palestinian homes, and clearly define a policy for the Gaza buffer zone that is in line with its international legal obligations to protect civilians under occupation.”

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