Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Gaza children stressed, desperate and in danger, says UNICEF

Khaleej Times, April 19, 2011


PARIS — Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip has left the isolated Palestinian territory’s children stressed, desperate and in poverty, forcing some to do dangerous and deadly work, UNICEF said Tuesday.
While there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Israel’s blockade means there is extensive poverty, endemic unemployment and that 80 percent of Gazans are dependent on aid handouts, said UNICEF spokeswoman Catherine Weibel.

Children under 18, around half the estimated 1.5 million population of the territory controlled by Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, are the most affected, the United Nations children’s agency spokeswoman told journalists.

While 90 percent of Gazan children are educated, largely thanks to UNICEF and UN Relief and Works Agency schools, poverty still obliges many to work.

They work often in “danger zones” such as smuggling tunnels running under the border from Egypt aimed at defying the Israeli blockade.

To keep working in the tunnels, which could collapse, be bombed or gassed, many youths take Tramadol painkillers, Weibel said.

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