Israel-Palestine Conflict: Statement by Int’l Network on Peacebuilding with Young Children
ECPC supports the statement by N. Ireland-based global network that calls for an end to violence and respect for international law
by N. Shemrah Fallon, ECPC News
NEW YORK, NY — On 20 May 2021, the Early Childhood Peace Consortium (ECPC) partner organization, The International Network on Peacebuilding with Young Children (INPB), based at Early Years - the organization for young children in Northern Ireland, released a statement demanding “an immediate ceasefire to the current attacks on civilians in Gaza, Jerusalem and elsewhere in the region”. The ECPC issues its strong stance of support for the INPB Statement in asserting that the attacks on civilians have been appalling, causing immeasurable suffering. The ECPC fully agrees with INPB that the impacts on women and children have been disproportionate and are particularly abhorrent.
While the world community watched the 11-day conflict intensify in civilian casualty and trauma, the INPB joined in resonance with United Nations agencies, world government leaders, non-governmental humanitarian organizations, academics, civil society, and concerned global citizens, to call for an end to the hostilities.
Post ceasefire, the INPB asks that the International Community support a “comprehensive Peace Process that deals with current governance and structural issues underpinning the conflict in the region”. The Network underscores that “recovery and reconciliation in the region require committed leadership that supports, social justice, human rights with a particular focus on the rights of children”.
“We need to build strategies and policies that deal with the structural causes of conflict in the region. We need to invest more in Early Childhood Development (ECD) as a way of building peace and sustainable development.
— Dr. Siobhán Fitzpatrick, INPB Chairperson
ECPC statement of solidarity with the families and children impacted by the current Israel-Palestine conflict
The ECPC acknowledges the efforts made by the international community to stop the violence. On the 20th of May, the U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed “the ceasefire between Gaza and Israel, after 11 days of deadly hostilities”.
We stand in solidarity and collaborate with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), UNWRA, UNICEF, and all other United Nations agencies and the Member States, as well as with Non-Governmental Organizations and Civil Society in the response to the humanitarian crisis to mitigate its impact on families and young children.
Members of the Consortium stand ready alongside the INPB and its other partner organizations to lend their expertise to relief efforts and offer programmatic support, especially for mental health and psycho-social support to young children and their families.
A ceasefire, but what next?
As members of the international humanitarian community respond to the outcome of this violent outbreak, the ECPC underscores the importance of early childhood development in building back and recovery. We affirm that multileveled early childhood development strategies and services are critical to mitigate the current and long-term impact of the adversities facing the people caught in the current Israel-Palestine conflict, particularly civilians — families, women, and children.
The ECPC on the role of science
Psychosocial stress experienced by parents/caregivers — especially mothers — who have been exposed to violence, seriously undermines their mental health and ability to provide nurturing care (Lundberg, 2012; Barrero-Castillero, 2019). The unique challenges of displaced families who have been impacted by conflict greatly exacerbate these adverse effects. As a result, children will grow up in environments conducive to “toxic stress,” which can impair their neurological development and will likely prevent them from reaching their full developmental potential (Shonkoff, 2020). Sadly, without investment in quality early childhood development programs and services over the short and long term, this can cause these developing children, lifelong challenges and become a self-perpetuating and intergenerational cycle (Shonkoff, 2020).
As stated on July 18, 2020, by H.E. António Guterres, the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations, on the occasion of Nelson Mandela’s Day:
“Governments must prioritize equal access, from early learning to lifelong education. Neuroscience tells us that pre-school education changes the lives of individuals and brings enormous benefits to communities and societies.
The ECPC Global Call to Action
The ECPC shares the grief of the people who lost loved ones and expresses deep concern for the immediate and long-term impact of this humanitarian crisis on Palestinian families and their young children. The wounds, trauma, and instability inflicted by this conflict already facing acute socio-economic difficulties and a health system compromised by the COVID-19 pandemic are severe and indelible, particularly for the most vulnerable.
As is detailed in the ECPC Global Call to Action in response to COVID-19 for children in fragile and conflict-affected settings: The promise of Early Childhood Development (2020), safeguarding young children impacted by crisis and prioritizing their survival, development, and protection is not only necessary to alleviate suffering and uphold their rights, but can also drive economic recovery and build a strong foundation for peace and security, resilience, social justice, and social cohesion.
“For this, we entreat governments, policymakers, and civil society to safeguard the increasingly undermined rights of young children in building back, and to prioritize investment in their survival, development, and protection so that they and their families live in peace and dignity.
— Dr. Rima Salah, ECPC Chairperson
Note: The ECPC supports all diplomatic efforts to resolve conflict, uphold International Law, and advocate for the human rights of children and families across the globe. We stand in solidarity with our colleagues — academics, research scientists, educators, and clinicians— in Palestine and Israel and will continue to support and empower their peacebuilding efforts to resolve conflict and end human suffering.
- The Palestinian Ministry of Health (21 May 2021) reports that the conflict has claimed the lives of 232 Palestinians, including 39 women and 65 children, 17 elderly with 1,900 people injured as a result of the attacks on the Gaza strip.
- According to a report by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) (20 May 2021), up to 71,232 internally displaced persons (IDPs) have fled their homes and have taken refuge in 59 United Nations schools and Designated Emergency Shelters (DESs) in Gaza.
- UNICEF USA. Geneva Palais Briefing Note On The Situation Of Children In The State Of Palestine (21 May 2021).
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO) (20 May 2021), 12 citizens in Israel, including a 5-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl, have lost their lives with hundreds injured. Eighteen Palestinian hospitals and clinics have been severely damaged, and nearly half of all essential medicines have been depleted.
- In a statement by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fiore (18 May 2021), “an estimated 250,000 children need mental health and protection services, while at least four health facilities and 40 schools have been damaged in Gaza since weeks of tensions escalated into Palestinian rocket fire into Israel and Israeli airstrikes”.
Other relevant news
- UN News. Ceasefire can’t hide scale of destruction in Gaza, UN warns, as rights experts call for ICC probe (21 May 2021). Retrieved from https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/05/1092482
How you can show your support
- UNICEF USA | Immediate Humanitarian Access Needed to Protect 1M Children in Gaza. Consider making a donation today.
The Early Years — the organisation for young children
Early Years is the largest organisation in Northern Ireland working with and for young children, to promote and develop high-quality, evidence-informed early childhood services for young children, their families, and communities. It's a non-profit making, membership-based organisation and has been working since 1965 for children aged 0–12 and their families. Early Years vision is to ensure all children are strong, competent, and visible in their communities. All children are physically and psychologically healthy, eager to learn, and respect those that are different.
The Early Childhood Peace Consortium (ECPC)
Where all children are the stars of today and leaders of tomorrow.
The ECPC is a global movement of United Nations agencies, Non-Governmental Organizations, academia, practitioners, and the private sector focused on sharing scientific and practice-based evidence on how investment in early childhood development (ECD) can contribute to sustainable peace, social cohesion, and social justice. We recognize that investing in ECD is a powerful and cost-effective strategy for reducing violence, poverty, and exclusion and for building peaceful societies.