20 November 2023
Emotional wounds, and long lasting scars – The Mental Health and Wellbeing of Gaza’s Children
On this World Children’s Day, our focus turns to the children of Gaza, who, for over a month, have endured relentless conflict and been deprived of the most basic necessities, such as water, food, and medicine. Beyond the visible wounds of war, these children carry the invisible weight of traumatic experiences, having witnessed the horrors of violence, and living under the constant threat of bombardment without escape, nor access to adequate avenues for coping.
The toll on Gaza’s children over the past month has been staggering, according to Save the Children, over 4,008 children’s lives lost and 1,270 children missing. This crisis extends beyond Gaza, with 43 children killed in the occupied West Bank, 31 in Israel, along with 30 children reported to being held hostage, raising deep concerns for the physical and emotional wellbeing of children across the entire region.
The situation in Gaza is beyond critical, with no safe zones and a healthcare system in shambles, leaving children without access to security or care. Furthermore, the sense of security within a family is ripped away, with family members killed and livelihoods destroyed, which leaves parents struggling with limited resources to meet the basic needs and ensure the wellbeing of their children.
Moreover, a concerning number of children find themselves orphaned with no surviving family members. Their situation is further exacerbated by the absence of robust support systems. In a situation with no caregivers or caregivers under great distress, the capacity to provide adequate care for these vulnerable children is significantly hampered.
The events of the past month will leave lasting scars on the mental health of all children affected, and we join the international community in urgently calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and corridors to safety and basic aid. At this time, immediate mental health and psychosocial support interventions are imperative, providing psychological first aid in the short term, followed by long-term durable assistance, to help children and families rebuild their lives. Prioritizing these efforts is essential both in the current situation and in the post-conflict aftermath.
The children of Gaza, innocent victims of a conflict they had no part in, stand at the forefront of our concerns today. Just like any child anywhere in the world, the children of Gaza deserve the right to a life with dignity, filled with care, safety and the opportunity to flourish.