The vast majority of Gaza’s 800,000 children have only ever known life under the Israeli-led blockade, and they are in mental crisis because of it.
“Trapped“, a recent report by Save the Children, found that 80 percent of children and young people in Gaza suffer from depression, sadness and fear. The NGO interviewed 488 children and 168 parents and caregivers in the Gaza Strip, following up on similar research that they conducted in 2018. Since their last report, the number of children reporting emotional distress has now increased from 55 to 80 percent.
Gazan children under the age of 15 have faced what the report terms six life-threatening situations – four military escalations, violence as Israel sought to quell the “Great March of Return” in 2018, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Those are in addition to the illegal Israeli-led blockade and restrictions on movement that continue to traumatise Gazans.
Experts warn that mental health challenges are hampering children’s development, learning and social interaction, in both the immediate and long term. They’re urging the Israeli government to take immediate steps to lift the blockade of the Gaza Strip and end the occupation.
In this episode we’ll discuss the state of children’s emotional, psychological and social well-being in Gaza, and ask what is needed to nurture young minds and rebuild mental health services in the occupied territory.
In this episode of The Stream, we are joined by:
Dr Yasser Abu Jamei
Psychiatrist, and Director, Gaza Community Mental Health Programme
Jason Lee, @JasonIanLee
Country Director, Save the Children
Enas Faras Ghannam, @GhannamEnas
Project manager, We Are Not Numbers