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Bombings in Palestinian Territories take their toll


A group of children gather around their mother, who is teaching them how to paint. They draw smiling suns and rainbows, clouds with faces and stick figures wearing brightly coloured dresses and trousers.

This scene seems normal enough, but the mothers at the SOS Children's Village in Rafah, in the Gaza Strip, are painting with the children to distract them from the explosions of bombs in the surrounding area.

Happier times at SOS Children's Village Rafah

The entire Gaza Strip has been under frequent bombing since 28 June 2006 when an Israeli soldier was kidnapped by the Palestinian militant group Hamas. In response, Israel has prevented the entry of all goods, including foodstuffs, medication and fuel, into the Gaza Strip. The severe shortage of basic necessities in Gaza is threatening to cause a major health disaster.

The lack of essential medicines and food is a growing cause of concern for the village staff. "We fear that the continuity of this situation will cause health problems for the children" explained Dr. Kamil El-Shami, project coordinator at SOS Children's Village Rafah.

The bombing of the Gaza power plant has left local residents without electricity, although the SOS Children's Village in Rafah has been fortunate enough to make use of its own generator to try and maintain some kind of normality for the children. However, no one knows how long the generator can be utilised, since the blockade has also created a fuel shortage.

Unsurprisingly, the current unrest is taking its toll on the children, many of whom are suffering from sleep disorders, fear and anxiety, bed wetting and nightmares. The bombings have restricted many of the children's activities, with the children being mostly confined to the village, which is considered a safe area. Painting, drawing and singing continue to be the main forms of entertainment for the time being.

With food, medicine and fuel supplies beginning to run low, the situation looks increasingly precarious, yet the residents of SOS Children's Village Rafah are keen to help their neighbours through this difficult period. The water well in the village is now also providing the surrounding community with drinking water.

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Relevant Countries: Israel, Lebanon, Palestinian Territories.

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