Palestinian Youth Speak Out for a Better Future
July 31, 2020
The rights of Palestinian children are under increasing threat following Israel’s decision to take as much of 30 per cent of West Bank land under direct government control. This process of annexation threatens to further fuel tensions inside the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) - exposing children to significant harm.
The United Nations states that children and youth have the right to have their voices heard on the issues that affect their lives. Palestinian children have so far been denied this right - which is why War Child teamed up with other international children’s organisations to share their voices with the world.
Fears for the future
This month saw youth from the West Bank take part in a special online conference - called ‘The Country I Want to Grow Up In’. The virtual event saw six young people from host and refugee communities take part in a dialogue that saw them share their experiences and concerns about the proposed annexation.
One particular concern shared among the participating youth was the threat - both social and physical - posed to communities. Hebron teenager Hala (16) explained: “The annexation will have a big negative impact on all Palestinians. It will break social relationships between everyone - it will lead to a huge social distancing. Society will become fragmented and we will lose our connection with each other.”
Mohammad (16) from Hebron highlighted the psychological impact of the military presence in the region: “I live in a military zone that is completely closed and under military jurisdiction. It affects me psychologically - I often feel terrified.”
Photo: Larissa Koekkoek / War Child
Education under attack
Education was another area of concern - particularly if the military presence in the region expands. Mohammad explained: “My plans were to finish school then go to the university of my choice. But I currently live inside a military zone - and the school I’m enrolled in, and the university I planned to go to, are outside this zone. I now feel the constraints lying ahead of me."
Julia (15) from the Jordan Valley highlighted the threat to children’s wellbeing: “Even small children on their way home from school face soldiers or encounter army cars. They already see many frightening things.” Layan (15) from the Jericho region: “There may be more checkpoints that prevent us from reaching school. And with the outbreak of the coronavirus children already feel a lot of stress."
About ‘The Country I Want to Grow Up In’
‘The Country I Want to Grow Up’ In is a special collaboration between Save the Children, War Child, Defense for Children International and AIDA (the Association of International Development Agencies).
Photo: Tanya Habjouqa / NOOR