JERUSALEM, 20 July 2004 – UNICEF-supported summer camp activities have begun throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip, bringing recreational and play activities to some 17,000 boys and girls.
Between now and the mid-August, a total of 100 summer camps will provide young people in the Palestinian Territory the opportunity to improve their education, build self-esteem and have fun at a time when the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is depriving them of part of their childhood. The camps were conceived as safe havens where children can escape the ongoing conflict and learn about non-violent conflict resolution and peace-building activities.
“These summer camps aim at providing opportunities for the children to play, to have fun, to express themselves, to develop their skills and to learn,” said David Bassiouni, Special Representative of UNICEF in Jerusalem. “For children who spend hours navigating checkpoints and barriers on their way to and from school, who cannot sleep at night due to the sound of live fire, and who have nowhere to play these summer camps provide a safe and child-friendly environment for part of their summer.”
All UNICEF-supported summer camps are run under the umbrella of the National Committee on Summer Camps, a body headed by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and which includes the Palestinian Authority, UNICEF, UNRWA and NGO representatives. The camps are guided by a National Declaration on Summer Camps, which promotes non-violence, tolerance and non-exploitation. The principles in the Declaration are drawn from the Convention of the Rights of the Child – the world’s most widely adopted human rights treaty.
Summer camps typically last about two weeks, operate for a half day and are held in schools, community centers and parks.
This summer features two types of summer camps: Adolescent sites will operate in 50 locations and will benefit 7000 young people between the ages of 12 and 18. The theme is protecting the environment, where adolescents will develop positive attitudes, skills and behavior to better protect and improve the environment. The Palestinian Hydrology Group, among others, helped train camp facilitators in water, sanitation and hygiene.
An additional 50 summer clubs will benefit an estimated 10,000 children aged 6-12. These clubs feature recreation, drama, dance and music. Two clubs in Tulkarem will focus on remedial education to help students whose schooling has been affected by the barrier compensate for the loss of school days during the academic year.
In 2003, UNICEF sponsored 311 summer camps out of a total of more than 900. Wanting to emphasize quality and to integrate summer camps into the school recreational system, this year UNICEF reduced the number of camps it supports. Financial assistance goes toward supplies, food, t-shirts and day trips.
The summer camps supported by UNICEF will have intensive and frequent monitoring. All UNICEF staff from Jerusalem and six zonal offices will assist with monitoring activities – providing support to summer camp organizers as well as ensuring availability of such basics as proper sanitation, water and food.
For further information, please contact:
Michael Bociurkiw, Communications Officer, UNICEF Jerusalem
Tel: +972-577-293214 / +972-59674385
GordonWeiss, Emergencies Press Officer, UNICEF
Tel: +1 212 326 7426;
Mobile: + 1 917 498 4083