Child Protection Rapid Assessment Report
Child Protection Rapid Assessment Report
The need to undertake a child protection assessment was further discussed with the members of the CPWG in Gaza, and it was agreed to undertake an interagency Child Protection Rapid Assessment (CPRA), using the Global CPRA tool, for the following reasons:
The CPRA is based on a sound methodology
It has been successfully implemented in a wide range of countries and contexts
The tool could be adapted to the context in Gaza
The CPRA is designed to produce information on child protection risks, vulnerabilities and capacities, which then inform the identification of the most urgent protection needs and priority responses
The CPWG coordinator in Gaza is trained and familiar with the toolkit and able to lead the process
CPWG members were able to mobilise resources to support the assessment
The data confirms that children have become separated from their caregivers (but not necessarily from other relatives) during the conflict, predominantly as a result of the displacement, and members of the Child Protection Working Group established that the majority of families were quickly reunified. In 53% of sites, responders indicated that they were aware of 1-10 cases in their neighbourhood or site. Separation was most frequently noted for IDPs living in UNRWA collective centres (64% of key interlocutors), in Gaza North (82%) and Rafah (64%).
In 90% of sites responders stated that they were unaware of any children who were not cared for by an adult with responsibility to do so. Of the sites where unaccompanied children were identified, initial responses suggest that boys may be more affected than girls and half of these sites indicated that unaccompanied children are mostly 14 years and over. This may be related to patterns of child labour, and/or to families keeping girls at home longer and separating from boys when under duress and faced with difficult choices.
38% of responders indicated that caregivers are sending their children away to be cared for by extended family. This may represent a secondary pattern of separation caused by a range of combined factors including loss of livelihood, economic hardship, and the loss of family home.
Key interlocutors were asked what they would do if they came across a child who had become separated from his or her family, and 70% said they would temporarily take care of the child whilst looking for alternatives, 63% said they would assume care of the child, and 35% would find someone in the community to care for the child.
Despite the presence of explosive remnants of war (ERWs) all over the Gaza Strip, only 14% of respondents in the CPRA identified this issue as posing as a predominant risk for children, whilst hazards in and around the home were most commonly selected (49%) followed by car accidents (47%) and lack of access to medical care (36%). 34% of responders identified community violence and 19% domestic violence. Community violence rated highest in key interlocutors of the IDP population living in UNRWA shelters (50%).
100% of responders stated that they had noticed significant changes in children’s behaviours, and 99% said that they had noticed significant changes in caregivers’ attitudes as a result of psychosocial distress. Respondents identified conflict related events as the biggest source of stress; in terms of post conflict stressors, having to travel far from home to attend school was identified as most significant source of stress (boys 36%, girls 55%).
Displays of aggressive behaviours, anger and frustration (73%) was identified as a strong trend for boys, and children committing acts of violence was identified in 88% of sites visited. The most commonly cited acts of violence identified were bullying (74%), violence against siblings (74%) and damage to infrastructure (68%). 100% of responders representing IDPs in UNRWA sites identified that children are committing acts of violence.
Respondents in 78% of sites identified that children in their neighbourhoods are involved in harsh and dangerous types of labour; and 65% of those responders said that this pattern has increased as a result of the crisis. Dangerous forms of child labour were identified more frequently by responders representing the IDPs living in UNRWA collective centres (97% of responders), in Gaza (88%) and Gaza North (90%).
The most commonly cited types of labour identified are: selling small goods (71%), and collecting items in the rubble to sell (63%). Involvement of children in building/construction work in Gaza North was identified by 40% of respondents. New forms of labour include collecting remnants of war, and collecting rocks and iron from destroyed houses.
50% of responders did not acknowledge that sexual violence happens in their community. This was higher in Bedouin communities (67%), and across populations in Gaza North (82%), whereas this percentage was lower for IDPs living with host families (30%) and across populations in Rafah (25%). Of the remaining 50% of responders, 52% said that sexual violence against children had increased since the hostilities. In sites where sexual violence is said to be present, 70% of respondents in UNRWA collective centres, and all respondents in the sites in Gaza North said that it has increased, 69% of responders overall said that they thought girls were targeted more than boys and 63% said that children under 14 were the most targeted group.
The fact that Gaza North was the Governorate with the highest rate of negative responses around the question of the existence of sexual violence (82%), and that all of the responders who acknowledged this issue also said that it had increased seems to indicate that there may be differing views on the existence and prevalence of sexual violence against children which could be driven by social norms and values, and/or by the level of education and knowledge on the issue.
When asked the situations in which sexual violence occurs 90% of responders identified shelters, 52% identified common areas such as latrines or showers, 32% identified play areas, 19% identified that it occurs on the way to school, and 19% identified that it occurs in host families; only 16% of responders identified that sexual violence against children happened in the home.
Confined spaces, where there is less privacy and protection, and places where children are left unsupervised may increase the risk of sexual violence. The high response rate suggesting that children are most at risk of sexual violence in the UNRWA collective will require further and careful analysis, and to establish protective measures as a matter of priority.
It will be important to establish strong systems and protocols to identify and respond to the needs of the most vulnerable children: separated and unaccompanied children, children displaying concerning behaviour changes as a result of psychosocial distress, and child survivors of sexual violence. It will also be important to deliver an intensive awareness raising campaign on the dangers of ERWs targeting children and caregivers directly. Finally it will also be crucial to identify and prioritise the most vulnerable and poorest of families for the provision of socio-economic supports and referral to essential services through a case management system to prevent children becoming involved with hazardous types of child labour.