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Gaza Strip, Palestine - Creating safe youth-friendly spaces is of primary importance in Palestine. This type of intervention can become more relevant in disruptive locations like Gaza, targeting marginalized groups. Indeed, the lack of access to services for people, especially young people with disabilities, underlines the need to have such proper spaces.


Following the latest tensions which erupted on 5 August 2022, the UNFPA implementing partner Sharek Youth Forum, organized a series of camps welcoming children and adolescents with different disabilities - autism, down syndrome, cerebral palsy, learning problems, and physical disabilities. 


“This generous contribution will help in alleviating some of these stresses these vulnerable kids are facing.  We are eager to be part of these camps” says one of the volunteers. Starting on 20 August, many events took place ending in September, gathering more than 500 young people, aged between 4 and 15 years. These camps acted as a safe space for children to play, have fun, and interact with each other.  One remarkable fact is that these camps were the first of its kind, supporting autistic children in participating in group activities.    


This intervention had a dual impact in the life of children and that of the young volunteers assisting them in the process; they created strong relationships by sharing weaknesses and feelings. Respect and trust have indeed been the foundation of these days.


Noor Abbas Nassar is a 22-year-old young girl recently graduated in Law at Palestine University.  She volunteered in the camps and played an important role throughout. As a young activist at the community level, Noor participates in many initiatives advocating for youth rights, and violence and injustice. About her experiences in working with children with disabilities, she remarked to be the one who is learning from them and that spending time with them, she is collecting the most precious memories of her life. In her own words “I discovered a world full of surprises, these children showed me abilities and talents that I personally do not have. This experience taught me that instead of trying to change the reality of the situation, we need to focus on changing our mindset”.


“It was a true joy to encourage a young girl to clap her hands. I will remember her name and face, as of many others, forever” says Abdallah Rashad Albaba, a 23-year-old from Rafah, recently graduated in medical engineering at Palestine University.


According to  Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics report   by tracking the functional capabilities in the Palestinian Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2019-2020, the percentage of persons with disabilities in Palestine reached about 2% of the population. Findings say that 2.4% of children aged 2-4 years suffer from at least one type of disability. While the percentage of disabilities among children and adolescents between 5 and 17 years increases to about 15%.


People with disabilities have the right to develop their skills and live a life with dignity. UNFPA Palestine works with partners to sensitize the population about people with disabilities, and to integrate them in our programmes, ensuring that we are leaving no one behind.