Donor: Italian Agency for Development Cooperation – Jerusalem Office
Period: August 2018 – June 2019.
Thematic Area: Protection of the most vulnerable parts of the refugee population in Jerusalem, especially in the field of education, and water, hygiene, environment, territory, management of natural resources, climate changes.
Local Partner: Palestinian Child Center (PCC), UNRWA
Italian Partner: Overseas Onlus
General Objective: To help strenghten the mechanisms of protection of the refugee population in East Jerusalem, whose situation is critical due to the segregation policies implemented by the Isreali autorithies.
Specific Goal: To improve the responsiveness to crisis and protection of children, families and various actors (UNRWA, PC, CBOs) that live in the Shu’fat refugee camp, an extremely vulnerable area because of its strong demographic growth. In fact, the overpopulation in the camp has caused a tremendous pressure on the infrastructures and basic services (such as water, hygiene, and education), which has exacerbated the condition of vulnerability of the residents, making it necessary to improve the mechanisms of protection.
Beneficiaries: 357 children who benefit from scholastic and extra-scholastic educational activities meant to improve their psychosocial condition; 35 teachers ( 7 male – 28 female) and 2 counsellors (both female) who strenghten their educational, pedagogical and psychosocial skills; 7 educators of the Child Centre who increase their pedagogical knowledge; at least 30 caregivers (mostly mothers) who benefit from the activities of psychosocial support and community engagement; 110 families from the Khalafe and Tawale districts for a total number of 660 persons (128 girls and 138 boys under the age of 18 years, 182 women and 180 men between 18 and 59 years, 33 over the age of 60 years); 252 school-age children and 34 teachers of the UNRWA Boys School; 525 school-age children (350 girls and 175 boys) from the 15 classes of the three UNRWA schools, as well as 15 teachers and 3 school principals; 4 CBOs working in the camp who benefit from the capacity-building activities to strengthen their expertise in advocacy; at least 1000 people, including representatives of local and international organizations, who participate in the dissemination of the advocacy tools developed.
Project Summary: The unbearable life conditions inside the Shu’fat refugee camp, caused by the disintegration of social bonds and the lack or inadequacy of basic infrastructues and services (such as clean water, eletricity, the waste collection scheme and the rainwater collection system) aggravate the situation of violence and vandalism, and exacerbate the feeling of abandonment, insecurity, instability, and marginalization of many people who live in the camp, especially for the most vulnerable part of the population such as women and children. Most UNRWA schools in Shu’fat display an extremely critical situation: they not only fail to offer a secure environment of organised learning, but also become a meaningless space where violence and frustration are magnified. Just in the last 3 years, UNRWA schools have gradually lost 264 students (more than 20% of the total), with an alarming peak in the Boys School. Such decline in the overall number of students does not correspond, however, to a reduction of the number of people in each class, as the crisis of the staff had direct consequences on the ratio between students/space in class, and students/teachers. The problem of overcrowded classrooms is further worsened by the almost complete absence of a structured psychosocial support for the children, which would be needed because, as noted by the PCC teachers, children are often victims of a threefold form of violence: in the household, in the school, and in the street. In fact, teacher are often perpetrators of both physical and verbal abuse on students as a method of punshment for their bad or inappropriate behaviour. This fact stimulates an extensive use of peer-to-peer violence in the children as well, which is being expressed differently between boys and girls. Therefore, the project aims at increasing the psychosocial wellbeing of the children through the strengthening of the already existing services, the implementation of coaching and training activities in the three UNRWA schools and in the Palestinian Child Centre, and thanks to the adoption of inclusive education and a gender-based approach. Moreover, the project is meant to intervene with WASH activities both in the two areas of Khalafe and Tawale to renovate the sanitation and sewage system, and in the UNRWA Boys School to rehabilitate the toilets. This would be a first step towards the creation of healthy educational spaces, and an improvement in the condition of access to education, together with the awarness-rising activities on personal hygene that are involving fifteen classes of the UNRWA institutes. At the same time, one more component of the project is focusing on strenghtening the capabilities of local actors (such as CBOs) in planning response in terms of advocacy to the violations of the rights of the people in the camp .