Safeguarding children’s rights in East Jerusalem

Project completed
Safeguarding children’s rights in East Jerusalem, occupied Palestinian territory
Enhancing positive participation and engagement of children in cultural, recreational, awareness raising and life skills activities at 5 CBOs in East Jerusalem, supported through PalVision. © UNICEF

By supporting a comprehensive child protection programme in occupied East Jerusalem, Switzerland aims to ensure that vulnerable children at risk of being in conflict with the law or directly affected by the conflict, together with their families, have access to appropriate preventive and protection programmes. The intervention, implemented by UNICEF and its partners, is in line with Switzerland's engagement for the respect of human rights and international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Palestinian Authority
Conflict & fragility
Human rights
Rule of Law - Democracy - Human rights
Legal and judicial development
Conflict prevention
Human rights (incl. Women's rights)
01.12.2016 - 31.12.2020
CHF  2’250’000

With increasing poverty and unemployment, more than 82% of Palestinian children of East Jerusalem live in households that are below the Israeli poverty line. Expenditures into public services are higher – in absolute and per capita terms – in West Jerusalem and in East Jerusalem Israeli settlements than in the Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. Con­sequently, the latter areas suffer from lack of parks, playgrounds and classrooms. The streets are dirty because of inadequate garbage collection and little recreational activities are available for children below 6 or above 15.

In addition to that, Palestinian children grow up in vulnerable protection situation: they are exposed to routine violence in public spaces, especially when en­countering Israeli Security Forces, Israeli settlers and private security guards. Child arrests and detention including house arrests are a common reality for these families. From January to August 2016, Israeli forces detained 560 children from East Jerusalem. In 2017, according to UNICEF, 729 children were de­tained or arrested in East Jerusalem alone. Beside ar­rests, cases of physical and verbal abuse, use of hand-ties and painful restraints, coerced confessions, lack of access to lawyer and to family members as well as a consistent use of night arrests were reported.

As a response to these acute protection needs, Swit­zerland has initiated a partnership with UNICEF, com­munity-based and non-governmental organisations to formulate a coordinated intervention.

This intervention is based on Switzerland’s commit­ment to a just and lasting peace based on a nego­tiated two-state solution. Under this framework, Switzerland has engaged in promoting respect for international human rights law and international hu­manitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), including East Jerusalem.

The intervention aims at filling protection gaps relat­ed to children in East Jerusalem by bringing together prevention, mitigation and response interventions. The project contributes to:

Strengthen support and protection services for at-risk children and their families. Prevention pro­grammes are to be established and early child de­velopment programmes developed to address the current needs of children under 6 years and their families. Extra-curricular activities can also reduce children’s vulnerability and help build their resili­ence.

Address the needs of children confronted with the Israeli Security Forces, i.e. those under house ar­rest, those detained for a few hours or those held in prisons. Children and their families should have access to competent legal counselling.

Provide and update reliable data on facilities and service delivery gaps, on violations against children in East Jerusalem.

Improve coordination among key actors to res­pond to the impacts of violence, arrests and de­tention and to provide a continuum of care for children-at-risk and directly affected.

Project Highlights:

After having completed an appraisal of vulnera­bilities, and a mapping of service providers on the ground, UNICEF has put in place different activities and partnerships since mid-2018, such as:

  • Engagement of children in cultural, recreational, awareness raising, life skills, and resilience buil­ding activities.
  • Provision of safe spaces where children are able to learn and play. It also helps to improve their life skills and strengthen their coping mechanisms.
  • Child detainees receive quality and free legal aid and legal awareness. In addition, ex-child de­tainees receive structured psychosocial support. Grave violations are systematically monitored and documented. At least 80 children have been supported with quality legal aid services between June and July 2018.
  • Children in East Jerusalem who are arrested by Israeli security are traced and their families are informed of their whereabouts. Legal counsel­ling and legal interventions on behalf of children who wish to seek redress for abuse and to family members denied the right to visit their children in detention can be provided. Finally, principle cases on selected child rights issues related to children arrested and detained, can be filed.
  • Therapeutic and rehabilitation services are pro­vided such as remedial education services (basic skills education).