The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said the Israeli blockade and offensives on the Gaza Strip have had devastating psycho-social impacts on the Palestinian children and refugee community.
According to the agency, Palestinian refugees in Gaza continue to experience high levels of stress and distresses as a result of the 2014 conflict and the economic, social and psychological impacts of the blockade.
A recent survey conducted by UNRWA found that 55 percent of sampled patients attending UNRWA health centers demonstrated poor psychosocial well-being, with 70 percent being identified as potentially depressed.
Among the Palestinian refugee children, UNRWA estimates that a minimum of 30 percent require some form of structured psychosocial intervention. Their most common symptoms are: nightmares, eating disorders, intense fear, and bed wetting.
In UNRWA schools, counselors have been appointed to help ensure that the children of Gaza are equipped with the life skills to succeed in life, working closely with teachers to reinforce problem-solving, interpersonal relationships, support for their peers, respect and tolerance for others, and self-care and stress management.
In 2002, UNRWA established a so-called Community Mental Health Program (CMHP) to assist Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip who had lost their ability to cope with the deteriorating conditions characterized by high levels of violence and economic decline.
With a particular focus on children and youth, CMHP helps to mitigate the psychological impact resulting from the prevailing violence, economic hardship and isolation of the Gaza refugee population.