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Title: Child protection in the Occupied Palestinian Territory: structures, policies and services
Authors: Birzeit University. Institute of Community and Public Health
Issue Date: 2006
Publisher: Birzeit University & National Plan of Action Secretariat
Abstract: The current study, sponsored by UNICEF/Jerusalem, was carried out by the National Plan of Action Secretariat for Palestinian Children and the Institute of Community & Public Health / Birzeit University, between November 2005 and March 2006. One of the objectives of the study was to collect information on existing Child Rights and Protection policies and structures in five selected countries in the MENA region in addition to the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). The other aim of the study was to carry out a survey of the different child protection services within the oPt that target especially vulnerable groups of children. The methodology included a review of available documents on child protection systems in the five countries in the MENA region and in the oPt. For the survey on service providers, a questionnaire was designed and tested. Two hundred and thirty one institutions ranging from the Palestinian Authority, UNRWA, NGOs to the charitable sector were interviewed, mainly by telephone. Results show wide variations among the different countries analyzed, namely Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, and Tunisia, in their approaches to ensuring the rights and protection of children. A major difference lies with the reliance on governmental structures as opposed to nongovernmental ones, while no system has proven to be most effective. Each of these countries has one main body with the primary responsibility to monitor or ensure children’s rights. In the oPt, no such body exists. Structures are still rudimentary, with a lack of development and sustained coordination between the main stakeholders and the relevant sectors. The results of the mapping of child protection services in the oPt show that 26% of these focus on disabilities (26%) often targeting adults as well as children. Twenty-two percent of services target the poor, 20% children without family care, 12% victims of Israeli occupation and war, and 11% abuse and neglect. Three percent of services address the needs of children in conflict with the law, 3% child laborers, and 2% provide support for children in Israeli detention. Finally, 4 organizations provide support for children with special problems: children with cancer and their families and victims of substance abuse. Of the institutions interviewed, 53% are charitable organizations. Another 33% of the institutions are Palestinian and international NGOs (60% and 17% of the institutions, respectively), with government institutions at 11% and finally, UNRWA. The overall distribution of services reveals a significant imbalance in favor of the West Bank over the Gaza Strip, with 72% of the surveyed institutions located in the West Bank and only 28% in the Gaza Strip. Distribution of services between districts and by locality is also uneven, leaving the bulk of the rural population most disadvantaged in terms of access to and quality of services. Only about half of the interviewees said they were aware of the Palestinian Child Law, while over 88% of the interviewees reported they had heard of the concept of child protection. More than half of the service providers (55%) said their institutions were unable to reach all children in need. As for challenges, the two most important ones are related to financial constraints (26%) and the Israeli military occupation (26%). Nearly a quarter of the respondents criticized the role of PA institutions, in particular for the lack of law implementation, policies and coordination especially with regard to special needs. In conclusion, the results show a concerted effort to address the issue of child protection in five of the Arab countries. A similar attempt is made in the oPt to address this issue within both the political and social context with NGO’s as the main service providers.
Appears in Collections:Institute of Community and Public Health

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