Six months after US$3.5 billion was pledged to help children and their families in Gaza, reconstruction and recovery has barely started and the future of hundreds of thousands of children is at risk, says leading international Christian aid agency World Vision today.
“Governments have failed to deliver on the promises and money pledges they made at the conference in Cairo,” says Naila Abu Samra, World Vision spokesperson in Jerusalem.
“There isn’t time to waste. Tens of thousands of children remain homeless, and are showing devastating signs of trauma. Almost all of the children – 96 per cent – in our programmes are exhibiting signs of trauma, such as constant nightmares, jumpiness and withdrawal and need direct psychosocial support. Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of them is suffering severe psychosocial issues. It is heartbreaking to watch this happen, and feel powerless to do anything in the face of these broken promises,” adds Abu Samra.
According to information compiled by the World Bank , only a fraction of the money pledged at the donor conference in Cairo has been released so far. Some temporary shelters have been provided to families who lost their homes in the conflict in July and August 2014, but not one new permanent residence has been built. Promises of political change have also gone nowhere, with the seven-year land, sea and air blockade imposed by Israel on Gaza continuing to make daily life a struggle for children.
Reconstruction of thousands of homes and businesses destroyed in last summer’s Israel-Hamas war in Gaza has barely begun and living conditions in the territory have only worsened six months after donor countries pledged $3.5 billion, a coalition of international aid groups said Monday.
The Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA) urged the international community to adopt a new approach to Gaza, including by pressuring Israel to lift its border blockade of the Hamas-controlled territory. The blockade, which is also enforced by Egypt, has been in place since the Islamist militant group seized Gaza in 2007.
The report signed by 46 aid groups said only open borders and a durable Israel-Hamas cease-fire can bring economic, social and political stability to Gaza. Otherwise, “a return to conflict — and the cycles of damage and donor-funded reconstruction that accompany it — is inevitable,” the report said.
“Seven years of blockade, including three increasingly devastating wars, have wreaked havoc on children in Gaza, with more than 400,000 of them still in need of psychosocial care. What kind of future are we offering them?”
“We urgently need to see help for children, sustainable reconstruction, and support to tackle the root causes of the conflict, and secure a long-lasting security for both Israelis and Palestinians,” says Abu Samra.
“Any political solution that does not include the lifting of the Gaza blockade and ensuring unrestricted humanitarian access will be futile,” Abu Samra adds.
Mohammad El Halabi, the head of World Vision’s programmes in Gaza, says: “More than 500 children were killed less than a year ago, and we are seriously concerned for the future of the injured, disabled, homeless, and traumatised children who are still living. What kind of a future do they have in this big prison? What life awaits them as they grow up?”
Since the beginning of the cease-fire in August 2014, World Vision has provided emergency relief to approximately 90,000 people, assisted more than 10,000 children with psychosocial support through 40 Child Friendly Spaces, in addition to reaching more than 13,000 households with psychological first aid interventions.
“But the overall situation is dire and if an immediate and holistic solution is not found, we risk the chance of destroying the future of an entire generation of young people in Gaza,” warns Abu Samra.
As schools open today for the first time in over nine months across Sierra Leone, World Vision is warning of the psychological scars that have been inflicted on children by the Ebola outbreak.
THE phenomenally successful Zimbabwe Fashion Week (ZFW) is spreading its wings to international capitals and will this year launch its London edition, according to the organisation’sfounder and director, Priscilla Chigariro-Gessen.
The Zimbabwe-born former model-turned-entrepreneursays rising demand for similar networking events from the Zimbabwean diaspora community across the world had led to the expansion drive.
“Zimbabwe Fashion Week 2014 was a stupendous success and the buzz from our series of events so far is being felt by the fashion world beyond our borders. And so we feel that now’s the right time to launch our global brand – Zimbabwe Fashion International, which will premiere in London later this year,” Chigariro-Gessen said.
A Zimbabwe Fashion International team has now been set up in London and designers and sponsors interested in showcasing their work at the London premiere can register their interest by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org . The event will be held at the height of the UK summer season, a few weeks ahead of the main event in Harare.
Following its launch in October 2009 in South Africa’s commercial capital, Johannesburg, ZFW has been running successfully in Harare for the past five years and has in that time won the support and acclaim of esteemed figures in the fashion industry.
“As Zimbabwe’s premier fashion event, Zimbabwe Fashion Week’s main purpose is to create a platform for the country’s designers to showcase their creations. And by celebrating our nation’s sartorial creativity in this way, we also aim to help revive the country’s once thriving textile and fashion industry,” Chigariro-Gessen added.
The popular event is held at the end of August/early September each year and attracts an assortment of fashion enthusiasts, designers, models, buyers, corporate investors, entertainers, exhibitors and fashion-forward creatives from all over the world.
Last year’s edition drew about 40 designers, including seven international brands. Game of Thrones star Yuri Kolokolnikov added a touch of international celebrity by gracing the fashion event for the entire week. ZFW has also launched a video series of highlights of last year’s event in response to demand from fans who missed out on the show.
Chigariro-Gessen is buoyant about Zimbabwe Fashion Week’s international expansion and sees the brand continue to grow on the strength of “the unwavering support of Zimbabwean corporate investors, media, personalities and the Zimbabwean people.”
“We have become the go-to fashion event on Zimbabwe’s cultural calendar, and this is down to the work we’ve put in over the past five years to grow this event.Our mission is tomake the Zimbabwe Fashion Week brand synonymous with the people’s appetite for fashion, style and creativity,” she said.
“When Zimbabwe Fashion International launches in London this year, it will provide a much-needed platform for the many exciting upcoming fashion creatives working in the UK to showcase their creations. I feel that we’ve generated the momentum and credibility with Zimbabwe Fashion Week to sustain this international expansion, and we’re taking our strong brand credentials to London and elsewhere with full confidence that we will be successful,” Chigariro-Gessen added.
Words by: Chofamba Sithole
CELEBRATED rapper Hechichamunorwa Mount Zion Kwenda – better known as Mizchif – died early Thursday morning after a long battle with ill health. Mizchif was in the process of recording his come-back album titled Still A Legend and was also due to judge at a South African talent search show called End of the Weak. In death, a few sketchy news articles and blog posts with the barest of information about his life, music and causes of his demise have surfaced. A terrible farewell to a trendsetting artiste. The People’s Hub’s Henry Makiwa examines his place in African Rap folklore.