UNRWA launches summer camps for the children of Gaza

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) today (Monday) launched its summer camps for the children of the Gaza Strip, amid hopes from families to alleviate the psychological situation of their children.

About 120,000 male and female students (from 6 to 14 years) participate in the camps, distributed among 83 UNRWA schools in the Gaza Strip. The enrollees are divided into two morning and evening shifts during the day, and each group spends one week.

The groups participating in the summer camps, which last for about 4 weeks, are being renewed, so that the largest number of people can benefit from them.

The corners of the camps include climbing to jump on the “trampoline”, “the beautiful castle” and football, and the participants race to score goals and achieve victory, in addition to other recreational activities such as painting and handicrafts.

The 11-year-old girl, Jana Al-Najjar, expressed her happiness to join the summer camps at the Jabalia Elementary Common School in the northern Gaza Strip, accompanied by a number of her relatives, after a long school season that was accompanied by "psychological pressure".

Jana Al-Najjar told Xinhua that joining the summer camps is an opportunity to play, have fun, meet new friends and relax.

Jana Al-Najjar, who was laughing with her friend, added that the atmosphere inside the summer camps is wonderful and the spirit of cooperation prevails among all participants in the various activities of games, drawing and coloring.

She continues that practicing sports and various activities inside the camps gain the participants confidence in themselves and develop their talents, expressing her thanks to the UN agency for holding summer camps.

In another corner, the 8-year-old girl Salma competed with her friends to jump as long as possible on the "trampoline" game, which was placed in the middle of the school yard, which was covered with fabrics to reduce the sun's heat on the participating children.

Salma told Xinhua that the summer camps add to the participating children new talents and meet new friends, noting that she uses the hours of participation with play, joy and challenge.

Salma's mother, who accompanied her on the first day to school, told Xinhua that camps, sports and cultural activities are required to be held weekly for children in the Gaza Strip, as it is one of the areas that suffer the most due to the political and economic conditions.

Psychologists believe that summer camps are a way to reintegrate children into society after a long year of study and the wars they lived through, which caused isolation as a result of successive events, and schools are the safe place in the Strip in the eyes of children.

Ben Majikudonmi, head of UNRWA 's Personnel Affairs Authority, told Xinhua that last year, the Gaza Strip witnessed a military attack, which caused damage not only to buildings, but also to the dispersal of children's minds.

Majikudonmi added that UNRWA had an opportunity this summer to provide entertainment programs for children in order to draw joy and happiness on their faces, stressing the entitlement of refugee children to enjoy their basic rights to live, educate and play in a safe and stimulating environment like all children in the world.

According to a study conducted by UNRWA, following the wave of tension between Palestinian factions and Israel in the Gaza Strip in May last year, 35% of children in first grade suffer from psychological reactions related to trauma.

Summer camps in the Gaza Strip are one of the Agency's responses and interventions to help alleviate the psychological effects of repeated military tours and difficult living conditions resulting from 15 years of siege.

The summer camps provide 2,750 temporary job opportunities for graduates of both sexes in the field of psychological support and health education to follow up the behavior of the participating children and learn about their psychological state.


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