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Rehabilitation, reintegration of Palestinian child former detainees in West Bank

Dec. 13, 2018 5:38 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 13, 2018 5:38 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) and Save the Children (SC) in the occupied Palestinian territory held the closing workshop for their project: “Rehabilitation and Reintegration within their families and communities of the Palestinian child ex-detainees in the West Bank including East Jerusalem” to discuss lessons learned and what more needs to be done for future responses for children ex-detainees.

Every year approximately 700 to 900 Palestinian children from the West Bank aged 12-17 years old are detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military courts. According to data from our partners, the majority of children in contact with the Israeli military prison suffer from mistreatment and abuse. Basic juvenile justice standards are lacking, including the right to be informed of their rights in their own language, to have an adult present during interrogations, and being granted access to a lawyer.

The project was implemented by SC, in partnership with the East Jerusalem Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), and Defense for Children International-Palestine Section. Prior to the project, there was no institutional system that responded to the needs of child ex-detainees and their parents. In our approach, Save the Children has worked with the government and partners to ensure child ex-detainees have received services such as: access to legal representation, psycho-social support, remedial classes and vocational training.

During the event, speeches were made by Jennifer Moorehead, Country Director of Save the Children, Veronica Bertozzi, Focal Point for Civil Society from the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, and partners, as well as testimonials from beneficiaries, a presentation of the key findings and recommendations from the evaluation of the project, and the workshop.

“AICS believes in the key role that civil society can play in the development field, and for this reason we encourage initiatives led by the Italian civil society organizations in partnership with local NGOs”, said Ms. Bertozzi. The donor also expressed gratitude to all the partners who have been involved in this successful project. “We hope that more people can continue to benefit from the essential work that organizations such as Save the Children is delivering.”

Fatima, one of the mothers of the beneficiaries, was grateful to the YMCA and their programming, which helped her daughter, Nisreen* get back on track, “I thank God. Huge progress has been made and she is currently sitting exams for her general high school certificate, Psychologically speaking, as well, there is a huge improvement in her well-being and self-esteem.”

Nisreen echoed these comments and thanks, “Without the support of the YMCA I would not have been able to re-integrate. I have to thank the YMCA personally for helping me with the psycho-social support.”

Rowayada, another mother of a beneficiary, spoke about how the YMCA helped her son to continue his education. “The YMCA helped Ahmed* to find himself again and actually have a goal to look forward to in the future.”

“Since 2008, Save the Children and our partners have been providing critical support to children who experienced detention,” said Jennifer Moorehead. “Today’s event has a valuable opportunity to reflect on and discuss ways forward both in our programming and in the wider system, to ensure that we in the child protection community can help young people affected by arrest and detention to fulfill their potential.”

Key results:

- We supported 913 ex-detainee children through providing structured psycho-social support between January 2016 to December 2018.

- We provided remedial education support 150 ex-detainee children from January 2017 and June 2018. 86 per cent of these children returned to school.

- We provided vocational training to 122 ex-detainee children. 72 out of the 122 also received support to start income generating activities.

While the project is coming to an end Save the Children still believes that it is crucial to continue in providing support to this vulnerable group, through incorporating the results from the workshop and recommendations from the final evaluation into the next phase of programming.

This will include working with community actors to expand psycho-social support beyond immediate family members, in order to reach all members of the family as well as the wider community. In addition, Save the Children would like to strengthen links with schools, to ensure the increased reintegration of ex-detainee students back into the traditional school system.

*Name changed to protect the identity of the child.

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