12 June 2002
The United Nations Children's Fund said children in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are suffering serious psychological problems from the ongoing violence between Israel and Palestinians. UNICEF said the children see little hope for the future.
Israel imposed tight travel restrictions on the West Bank and Gaza following a series of suicide bombings.
UNICEF said the restrictions are having a devastating impact on the social and economic lives of Palestinians. A recent survey shows more than two-thirds of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza live on less than two U.S. dollars a day for each person.
The UNICEF special representative in the territories, Pierre Poupard, said Palestinian children are finding it difficult to envision a stable, prosperous future.
"The future is really not beautiful now. And the prospects in the minds of the children I used to meet very regularly all over the West Bank and Gaza, they are not speaking about the future. They are just speaking about tomorrow. I hope I will be able to go to school - and not what I am intending to do in my life," Mr. Poupard said.
Mr. Poupard said Palestinian children often experience daily violence - incursions by the Israeli military, shelling, and tanks rolling through the streets. He said many of the children express their anger, fear, and unhappiness in a variety of ways. "Short term problems - they include nightmares, bedwetting, phobias, anxiety, irritability, difficulty to concentrate at school. And probably the long-term (problems) will include increased levels of domestic violence, increased aggression," he said.
The UNICEF Official said the agency is running counseling programs to help these children learn how to express their fear and anger and how to help them control their violent inclinations.