February 4 2009

Children in Gaza Strip traumatised in aftermath of armed conflict

04/02/2009 - A co-worker of SOS Children's Villages in the Gaza Strip reports on the impact of the armed conflict on the families participating in the family strengthening programme in the area. The programme in Gaza is currently assisting 187 families, including 900 children.

Communicating with families was extremely difficult for Ihsan Redwan, coordinator of the family programmes in the Gaza Strip, throughout the 23 days of violence. After assessing the damages and impact on the families, Ihsan says, all 900 children who receive assistance as part of the programme she runs have been psychologically disturbed by the violence.

"We have noticed the appearance of white spots on the children's faces and all are suffering from obvious psychological repercussions, including re-occurrence of nightmares, constant screaming out of fear,  bed-wetting and various health problems, including  nausea and vomiting. The children are terrified and refuse to eat or play," reports Ihsan.

According to Ihsan, the families have been affected on different levels with at least eight children incurring severe injuries, including skull factures, burns, and broken limbs. A number of families, including children, have witnessed the killing of their relatives and the majority who had fled their homes to seek shelter elsewhere returned to find their houses either partly damaged or reduced to rubble.