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Gaza conflict: the worry remains

Rogier is lives in SOS Children's Village Rafah, in the Gaza strip. He's 14 and hasn't slept well during the conflict as he is too nervous.
Rogier is lives in SOS Children's Village Rafah, in the Gaza strip. He's 14 and hasn't slept well during the conflict as he is too nervous.

Sadly, the Gaza conflict is still in the news and no peace agreement has been reached. A three-day ceasefire began on Sunday evening, which has so far been respected by Gaza and Israel. Meanwhile, indirect talks have resumed between negotiators in Cairo, Egypt, to reach a permanent solution. The ceasefire has allowed for children to travel and return to the safety of SOS Children's Village Rafah in Gaza.

The conflict which started on 8th July has taken the lives of 2000 people, including 1945 Palestinians and 67 Israelis. At least 1,402 Palestinian civilians have died, as well as 2 Israeli civilians. Over 450 children have been killed. The latest addition to this tragic statistic is a one-month old Palestinian baby, who died from her injuries on Monday.

The current ceasefire agreement - which came into effect on 10th August - has so far been respected, allowing for some semblance of normal life to return to the streets of Gaza. Shops are cautiously re-opening, and after fleeing to refugee shelters many are returning to their homes to discover what is left of their neighbourhoods.

In Gaza: Bomb debris lands in Village garden

In the hours before the latest ceasefire, there was heavy shelling in Rafah. On Saturday and Sunday twenty-six bombs were dropped in close proximity to the SOS Children's Village in Rafah. Some debris landed in the Village garden, but fortunately no-one was injured. Israeli drones can still be heard overhead, creating a chronic and exhausting sense of fear.  

“Although the last few days have been hard, we are currently able to meet all our essential needs” says SOS staff in the Palestinian territory. The Children's Village has enough food, and has made agreements with local shops to provide vegetables, bread and other food items.  

Children play indoors at SOS Children's Village Rafah, Gaza, Palestine
At SOS Children's Village Rafah, three girls draw and colour in their
UNRWA notebooks. They are not allowed outside for safety reasons.

Children return to safety of SOS Children's Village

When the conflict began, many children who usually live in the SOS Children's Village in Rafah were visiting their relatives for Ramadan. Being too dangerous to travel, they were not able to return to the safety of the SOS Children's Village. With a stable ceasefire now in place, several of these children have returned. Children in the Village are playing inside their SOS family houses, as they are unable to go outside due to safety concerns.

Extended relatives were invited into the Village yesterday to help support the children. Meanwhile, SOS mothers left the Village to check on their non-SOS families. Not fully trusting the promise of ceasefire, mothers will return and guests will leave by nightfall so that they are not trapped if fighting resumes.

Concern for families

In Gaza, SOS Children supports several families through our community outreach work. It has been difficult to receive news about their safety. However, of those who are part of our Family Strengthening Programme, we know that at least five children and four mothers have been injured. 54 families have fled their homes to stay in UNRWA schools. 26 houses of families in our programmes have been partially or completely destroyed.

In Israel: “Everyone is worried”

All children and staff at the SOS Children's Villages in Israel are safe. However, the conflict has taken its toll on their psychological well-being. “The fact that everyone is worried remains the same. We hope that we will soon have some quiet,” says the Village Director in Neradim

As the struggle for peace continues, we will keep providing you with any updates we receive from our Children's Villages in Palestine and Israel. You can support our work in the region by sponsoring a child in the Middle East