Nearly 90 per cent of young people in Gaza believe their lives are abnormal compared to the lives of youths living elsewhere, according to a report released on Tuesday.
Based on an online survey, Gaza’s Youth: Suspended Lives, Fading Opportunities, published by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said 96.5 per cent of Gaza youth believe they are “negatively impacted” by low levels of income, the lack of jobs and basic services and “cyclic rounds” of tension and warfare.
“All we ask for is to live normally like others worldwide. We want to be able to move freely, travel, and have decent jobs,” said Nouran Al-Zaeem (23).
In the 15 years since the militant movement Hamas took control of Gaza, “restrictions imposed by Israel on the movement of goods and people in and out of Gaza have significantly contributed to a steady deterioration in the economic and humanitarian situation in Gaza”, the ICRC reported.
Two-thirds of youths said they depended on their families for income and 40 per cent had no hope of finding a job over the next 15 years.
Nearly 50 per cent said they suffered stress, anxiety, and depression. A third reported inability to sustain social ties and “12.4 per cent abstained from marriage” since there are “narrow prospects for establishing a family”.
Quality health services have deteriorated due to “limited capabilities of medical centres” and a third of youth cannot afford healthcare. Only a quarter can leave Gaza to access quality heathcare, the ICRC said.
Restrictions on young people leaving Gaza have cost nearly 40 per cent jobs abroad, 12.9 per cent foreign scholarships and 20.4 per cent business opportunities. Two-thirds believe there will be “new rounds of escalations” between Gaza and Israel and half think there will be fresh hostilities.
Young people aged 18-29 account for one-fifth of the 2.2 million Palestinians in Gaza. Those who replied to the survey said “the next phase of their lives will continue to be defined by the same critical challenges they have faced in recent years”, the ICRC said.
University graduate Laith Rashdan (25) told the ICRC: “Wars and closure have negatively impacted all youths in Gaza, not just me. War is just bad enough as it is, adding the closure [of Gaza] to that makes it too much to bear.”
Deputy head of the ICRC’s sub-delegation in Gaza, Nicolas Geeraert, said youth residing in Gaza “desperately need a pathway towards hope and opportunity away from pain and suffering driven by hostilities and movement restrictions”.
The ICRC called on the authorities to address deepening humanitarian consequences of the current situation and provide a “sustainable and long-term solution that provides youth in Gaza with dignified opportunities”.
The Israeli government press office did not respond to The Irish Times’s request for comment on the survey.