STATEMENT: Pax Christi International releases statement for the World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel
17/9/18 - Today, Pax Christi International has released a statement in observance of the 2018 World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel. The statement addresses the situation of youth and children, in keeping with the week's official theme, “Youth and Children: Raising Hope and Making Change”.
The statement begins by asserting, "We believe that this year’s theme, 'Youth and Children: Raising Hope and Making Change”', could not be more important or timely as the well-being and rights of children and young people continue to be threatened by the violence and chaos caused by 70 years of conflict, 51 years of occupation and the on-going blockade of the Gaza Strip."
The statement lists statistics which show how especially dire the situation is for Palestinian children, including that nearly half of all young Palestinian children suffer from chronic malnutrition making them more vulnerable to infections, disease, long-lasting physiological impairments and diminished success in school; and approximately 500-700 Palestinian children are arrested, detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system each year, including minors as young as 12.
Pax Christi International also raises concerns over "the recent decision of the United States to no longer fund the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)." UNRWA is the source of essential humanitarian aid like food, medical care, and emergency assistance to over half of the population in the blockaded Gaza Strip.
While addressing the trauma faced by Palestinian children, the statement also holds up the resilience and strength of these same children.
"Yet to view Palestinian children and youth merely as victims would be to do them a grave disservice. Instead we choose to acknowledge and support their strength, resilience and the crucial contributions they make in creating pressure for justice and peace through nonviolent actions. We reiterate principles enumerated in UN Security Council resolution 2250, that they should be empowered in gaining skills and afforded opportunities to engage in peacebuilding and conflict resolution and that they be part of decision-making at all levels."
The statement concludes with a call to action for the international community.
"We ask that the international community assert its influence in protecting the most precious and vulnerable of resources – the children and youth – by committing to:
- Uphold and act in compliance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, other human rights instruments and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
- Increase the resources necessary to safeguard the well-being and potential of all children and youth;
- Ensure that the basic needs of clean water, nutritious food, safe housing, reliable electricity and appropriate sanitation are guaranteed;
- Ensure that healthcare including mental health and specialised services are consistently accessible;
- Support policies that promote quality primary and secondary education including activities that encourage a culture of respect, nonviolence and peaceful coexistence;
- Protect and defend the unique rights of Palestinian children and youth living under military rule of law with a specialised juvenile justice system;
- Enable young adults to be adequately prepared to enter the labour force by offering a variety of training and apprenticeships, including technical and vocational skills;
- Encourage opportunities for entrepreneurship and the pursuit of advanced degrees;
- Promote the meaningful participation of young people in the decision-making process.