Ayesh lives in Gaza and is 16 years old, but you would never know that from looking at him. He’s malnourished and suffers from both anemia and brittle bone disease. One year ago, he was forced to drop out of school to work in the market in order to try to help his sick parents provide for the family. But now, he suffers from severe psychological stress. Recently, UNRWA (the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees) social workers were able to help Ayesh’s family get back on their feet and help Ayesh return to school. But many other children living under the Israeli blockade in Gaza are not as lucky.
In June, the world marked the 5-year anniversary of the formal Israeli blockade on Gaza, a policy that denies Gazans their basic human rights guaranteed under international law and amounts to collective punishment. We must demand an end to this degrading treatment of human beings, and at the same time, provide support to the Gazan people until they can enjoy the standards of development and economic prosperity for which they yearn.
The blockade has decimated the lives and livelihoods of the Gazan people and resulted in the impoverishment and de-development of a highly skilled and well educated society. A new UN report doubts that Gaza will be liveable by the year 2020 if these trends continue. That’s less than 8 years away.
The harsh realities of the blockade have now left 80% of Gazans dependent on assistance from aid organizations like UNRWA and in a place where 60% of the population is under the age of 24, it’s the children who suffer most. Overcrowded schools, a lack of safe spaces to play and grow, and recurring violence and conflict are traumatizing the children of Gaza and preventing them from having the bright future that all children deserve.
Please take action today on behalf of Ayesh and the 250,000 other children UNRWA serves in Gaza by calling for an end to the Israeli blockade and for the continued support of the Gazan people in the absence of a just solution. Because 5 years under the blockade is 5 years too many.