Renewed Violence in Gaza Will Have a Catastrophic Impact on Children’s Emotional State
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FAIRFIELD, Conn. (Aug. 19, 2014) — The failure of Israeli and Palestinian talks represents a tragic step back for children and civilians who remain caught in the crossfire. While over 370,000 children are reported to need urgent psychological and emotional support, agencies like Save the Children and its partners cannot begin to address these needs properly until there is an agreed and permanent ceasefire. Both sides must immediately return to the negotiating table to achieve this. The human cost of this conflict has already been far too high - more than 450 children in Gaza have been killed, while hundreds of thousands of others will bear the brunt of the violence for years to come.
Gaza also desperately needs to rebuild its shattered infrastructure. Thousands of families are still homeless and living in crowded classrooms and makeshift tents; many schools and hospitals have been heavily damaged or destroyed; the water and sanitation infrastructure is largely non-functioning, and there is a very real prospect of a public health disaster if hostilities start up again. Amid this destruction, children have no sense of normality, and renewed violence will only exacerbate and deepen their fear and trauma.
Save the Children’s David Hassell says: “It will take years to clear the rubble and rebuild Gaza, but that's only if the blockade is lifted soon. But human injuries cannot be so easily ‘rebuilt’, and we are extremely concerned about the long-term impact this terrifying violence will have on children. We have worked with children in Gaza for years, including during and after such military onslaughts, and it takes months, sometimes years, for children to start to recover. All these efforts can be undone with the first exchange of fire. A return to hostilities now is catastrophic.
“We urge both sides to extend the ceasefire and resume their talks for a long-term agreement immediately. This agreement must bring fundamental changes for Israelis and Palestinians, and include an end to the blockade of Gaza. Civilians on both sides have a fundamental right to live normal lives in peace, security, dignity and freedom."
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