After repeated Israeli military assaults and decade of illegal blockade by Israel and Egypt, Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip, part of the occupied Palestinian territory, are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other psychological traumas. These children have witnessed death, destruction, and displacement in three traumatic rounds of violence in less than a decade. The stress of the ongoing blockade, continued conflict, poverty for many, and increased gender-based violence have produced intense fear, bed-wetting, poor concentration, eating disorders, sleeping disorders, irritability, and hyperactivity.

Nearly three years after the most recent Israeli military assault in 2014, it's estimated that 51% of children in Gaza have PTSD.

UNRWA’s Community Mental Health Programme (CMHP) provides invaluable psychosocial support to Palestine refugees in Gaza. Children especially are able to better cope with the extreme challenges they face on a daily basis thanks to CMHP's school counseling and group sessions. UNRWA even provides at-home counseling refugees unable to travel to counseling locations.

Since the start of the CMHP in 2002, UNRWA has seen greater academic focus and confidence in the children who have received support. Counselor training and community workshops help ensure that counselors and the community are provided constructive psychosocial support, helping the kids to receive the respect, dignity, and support they need to become positive, contributing members of society.

Amani Bassam el Kelani (24), and her son Mohammed el Kelani (3) talk to their counselor about their trauma after the November 2012 Israeli military assault on the Gaza Strip.