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Source: United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the OPT
26 February 2015


The Humanitarian Coordinator calls for children's safe access to education in the occupied
West Bank, including East Jerusalem

Jerusalem, 26 February 2015


In today’s visit to the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City and the Old City of Hebron, the Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, James W. Rawley, together with diplomats from seven countries, learned firsthand about children’s difficulties in accessing safe and quality education, by speaking to affected students, teachers, parents, authorities, and relevant organizations.

Mr. Rawley and the diplomats visited schools affected by settler violence, military incursions or detention of students in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. In Hebron’s Old City, the delegation walked through some of the 18 permanent checkpoints which students have to cross daily, and where they are often subjected to bag or body searches, long waiting times, harassment or detention.

“Schools are inviolable safe spaces for children”, Mr. Rawley said. “To safeguard the rights of children to quality education, reasonable measures are needed; for example, not stationing armed soldiers near the entrance to a school during opening and closing times.”

Incidents involving schools almost tripled in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, from 2013 to 2014, affecting nearly 25,000 Palestinian children in 2014. They included military use of premises; military or other armed group activity; settler-related incidents; and demolition of schools.

Affected children grow up exposed to violence from an early age and many suffer from emotional and psychological distress. Over 77 per cent of students in Hebron showed symptoms of moderate to severe post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a recent study.

“Every child has the right to protected access to education”, Mr. Rawley said. “Israeli authorities must ensure that this right is fulfilled, and that those responsible for attacks against defenceless children are brought to account,” he concluded.

END

For more information, please contact Ms. Catherine Weibel, UNICEF,clveibel@unicff.mg,054 778 7604.


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