The ongoing power struggle between the Israeli government and Hamas has adversely affected youth in Gaza. The situation has been exacerbating since the 2007 Israeli blockade on the Gaza strip. Moreover, youth unemployment rates have risen to a staggering 60 percent, with a nearly 80 percent dependency on foreign aid.
An analysis conducted by the International Labor Organization (ILO) accentuates that the youth in Gaza working between the ages of 10-17 has soared to 9,700. Many are below the legal age of 15, and this figure is presumed to be much more in reality.
With rising food prices and varying degrees of income disparity over the years, the plight of the youth has only intensified. The deficiency in the labor market has made it difficult for people to find work. As a result, young children work for meagre amounts to support their families, without even the basic provision of insurance.
“I have to work to earn extra money – my father is ill, and my mum has no food for us,” exclaims 7-year-old Imad Awadallah.
Humanitarian aid has benefited many young children, but the British government’s recent probe into Palestinian authorities may show a prolonged misuse of this aid.
SOS Children’s Villages has been providing care and early education to young children in Rafah since 1999. Their youth home has also helped young people with basic training to adjust to the challenges that adult life entails.
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has also provided outstanding education in Gaza for the past few years. For three years, the El-Wedad Society for Community Rehabilitation has been spearheading the push for children’s rights. They visit families and highlight the vitality of education through seminars and sessions.
It is imperative to ensure mobility and efficiency in the provision of aid. While channeling humanitarian aid, collaboration with the Palestinian government is necessary.
Countries in the region have reached out to those impoverished children. Notably, an envoy from the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization arrived on June 16 with medical supplies. Also, many in Karara will receive help through the Turkish Crescent’s inception of the first aid station.
Moreover, the initiatives organized by Gaza’s Social Affairs Ministry of Labor will enhance a variety of skills, such as sewing and carpentry, which will help make the youth more self- sufficient. Thus, there should be an increased propensity to remain in school–increasing literacy rates are vital to increasing the diversity of the labor market.
The deployment of peacekeepers serves a dual purpose: 1) It is a necessary precaution to ensure the steady flow of aid and 2) it protects vulnerable groups (such as young children) in the more turbulent areas. Aid workers must also be well trained and experienced to safeguard the interests of the children.
Businesses that use exploitation and child labor have the potential to be blacklisted by the U.N., as it is a violation. Potential creditors must also refrain from investing in such businesses.
Considering the revolts in 2014, possible cessation of hostilities between the Hamas and Israeli government is indefinite. However, we can create awareness by supporting NGOs like Save the Children and Islamic Relief USA. Alleviating the harsh situations faced by the youth in Gaza will positively impact all involved.
– Shivani Ekkanath