World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Gaza crisis risks long-term health problems for children

Gaza crisis risks long-term problems for children says mental health specialist

August 1, 2014

As missiles rain down on Gaza, the war is exacting a huge psychological toll on children, which will plague the region for decades to come according to a World Vision mental health and psychosocial support specialist.

Alison Schafer says most human beings have a remarkable capacity to recover naturally from a crisis, once their sense of security is restored and their basic needs are met. But in Gaza children are in a perpetual crisis because of either war, the threat of war or a blockade that prevents the delivery of essential supplies.

“The challenge that is unique to Gaza is that children never achieve any ongoing sense of safety at all, and their parents cannot provide it because they have no control and they have nowhere else to go,” she says.

At least 200,000 children in Gaza are believed to be in need of psychosocial support, which World Vision is providing in homes, shelters and hospitals as the fighting continues. Many of the children are sharing their firsthand accounts of the bloodshed. Khaled, 11, said: "I have really bad nightmares, as I saw my sister and my cousin shredded and cut into pieces.” (See more quotes below)

Ms Schafer says such prolonged periods of stress cause a massive increase in cortisol levels in the brain, which adversely affects the mental development of children. Research is suggesting that this could be making children more at risk for aggressive behaviours and psychological problems in later life.

She adds that people suffering extreme adverse childhood experiences may have their lives shortened, with a significant risk of death before 50 years of age compared with children who have not experienced such events.

Ms Schafer says it’s critical for children’s mental health for the current hostilities to cease and for the blockade of Gaza to end.

Once this is achieved, it will be important for children to get back to a regular routine as quickly as possible, such as by going to school and participating in after-school activities. Children will also require more support from their parents.

“You are going to have children clinging to mother’s legs; you’re going to have children seeking attention. If they are not provided that attention in a positive way such as during family meals or family games then they are going to start exhibiting negative behaviours,” she says.

Ms Schafer says while aid organizations can provide a range of psychosocial support, the most important thing they can do is support parents to assist their children’s recovery.

“Children will naturally seek support from their parents and so they should. We should not be disempowering parents.”

World Vision has been working in the Gaza strip since 2001 providing agriculture and livelihoods assistance for the poor and most vulnerable families and psychosocial support for children. World Vision has been forced to temporarily suspend operations in Gaza due to the violence but will carry out an emergency response when the security situation allows.

Ms Schafer, who is based in Australia, has supported work in Gaza for about five years, providing psychosocial support to farmers and their families. The programs have been suspended due to the current fighting. Ms Schafer hopes to return to Gaza in September to continue work in mental health and psychosocial support.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Demonetisation: Gordon Campbell On India’s Huge Socio-Economic Experiment

Without much coverage at all in the West, India has just been engaged for the past few weeks in one of the world’s biggest socio-economic experiments since the Cultural Revolution in China. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Death Of Fidel Castro

New Zealand likes to think we played our part – via the 1981 Springbok tour – in bringing the apartheid regime in South Africa to an end… Jacob Zuma treated the death of Fidel Castro at the weekend as an occasion to pay a heartfelt tribute to the thousands of Cuban soldiers who travelled across the world to inflict the first significant military defeat on the forces of white supremacy. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The US Election Home Stretch

Once again at the business end of a US election, the result will hinge on the same old bits of geography as always: the Five Crucial Counties in Ohio, the Two Crucial Counties in Pennsylvania and the I-4 Interstate Corridor in Florida that runs from Tampa Bay through Orlando to Daytona Beach. More>>

ALSO:

Meanwhile:

Haiti: $5 Million To Kick-Start Aid In Wake Of Hurricane Matthew

UN emergency fund allocates $5 million to kick-start assistance in wake of Hurricane Matthew More>>

ALSO:

Preliminary Results: MH17 Investigation Report

The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) is convinced of having obtained irrefutable evidence to establish that on 17 July 2014, flight MH-17 was shot down by a BUK missile from the 9M38-series. According to the JIT there is also evidence identifying the launch location that involves an agricultural field near Pervomaiskyi which, at the time, was controlled by pro-Russian fighters. More>>

ALSO:

Not Helen Clark: António Guterres Favourite For Next UN Secretary-General

Former Portuguese Prime Minister António Guterres has emerged as the clear favourite to become the next United Nations Secretary-General following the sixth secret ballot held today by the UN Security Council, which is expected to take a formal decision tomorrow and forward Mr. Guterres’ name to the 193-Member General Assembly for final confirmation. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>

ALSO:

Other Australian Detention

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news