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Violence in Palestine takes toll on children

In December 2015, roughly 4,200 children were forced to pass through armed checkpoints to reach their classroom
In December 2015, roughly 4,200 children were forced to pass through armed checkpoints to reach their classroom

Heightened violence in the occupied West Bank is affecting school children in the SOS Palestine Family Strengthening Programme. Children in the area have been injured by rubber bullets and tear gas, and can no longer attend school safely.

The violence and restrictions on movement in Hebron is traumatising children such as Enaya, an 11-year-old girl who participates in the SOS Family Strengthening Programme. She was leaving her house, which is located in one of the most unsafe areas in the West Bank, when she was hit by a tear gas canister. She suffered from severe injuries to her leg and painful suffocation from the gas. Although, she is now able to walk again she is terrified to leave her house and walk in public. She is too scared to go to school.

Trauma has become a significant problem for children in Hebron, and all areas where the violent clashes have increased. Movement in and out of Hebron city and the surrounding area is currently restricted. The roads are blocked, and residents have to queue to go to work and school.

According to the UN, about 4,200 children in December, were forced to pass through armed checkpoints to reach their classroom. Teachers have described the students who show up as being “unable to concentrate and showing signs of psychosocial distress.”

How SOS Children is helping in Hebron

SOS Children operates a Family Strengthening Programme in the city of Hebron. The programme provides classrooms, counselling and educational support for children. The violence and roadblocks in certain areas of the city, has effected the day-to-day activities of the programme. 

The family strengthening teams are focusing on counselling and the well-being of children to help reduce the stress and trauma of living under the threat of violence. The family strengthening programmes in Palestine are currently working with almost 400 at-risk children from 81 families.

An SOS family at the Children's Village in Rafah, Palestine
An SOS family gathers outside their SOS family home in Rafah, Palestine

Saalima’s story

Almost four years ago, Saalima was born with a muscular disability as a result of a medication her mother took during her pregnancy. Saamlima’s ill mother passed away shortly after giving birth. Saamlima and her three siblings are now safely growing up at SOS Children’s Villages Rafah in Palestine.   

Saamlima’s disability has affected her mobility, and doctors did not believe that she would ever be able to walk or even move. However, the staff at the SOS care centre refused to accept that there was no hope for Saalima. They took her to see two specialists who confirmed that Saalima’s might be able to overcome her disability with physiotherapy and dedicated care.

Saalima started undergoing physiotherapy four times a week with additional special exercises, and vitamins to strengthen her muscles. Today, is able to walk and play with the other children at the Rafah Village. 

SOS Children has been working to improve children's well-being since 1968. Discover how you can make a last difference for children in Palestine.