A Decade of Distress: The harsh and unchanging reality for children living in the Gaza Strip

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Save the Children International,Save the Children oPt

Children and young people in Gaza live in economic hardship, under the threat of further conflict and with little opportunity of escape.

This report describes a research project undertaken in 2018, led by Save the Children’s mental health professionals, that aimed to better understand how these conditions have affected children’s and young people’s mental health and well-being.

The survey of 300 children, young people and caregivers in five governorates across Gaza revealed high levels of severe emotional distress, with many children and young people living in fear and having nightmares every time they slept. A key finding of the research is that while children and young people in Gaza are resilient, they are vulnerable to toxic stress and are at high risk of developing serious and long-term mental health issues.

More positively, a significant number of children and young people reported that their families are a key source of support in their current circumstances, and it is this that is holding them back from the brink of a mental health crisis. But caregivers say their capacity to support their children is being pushed to the limits by the blockade, chronic poverty and insecurity, and would most likely be utterly destroyed in the event of another conflict.

There is however still hope, and the report makes a number of recommendations for actions to be taken urgently by duty bearers, the international community, donors and humanitarian agencies working in Gaza.

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Children affected by armed conflict

Mental health and psychosocial support

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