In Gaza, women and children are bearing the brunt of the escalation of violence between the Israeli government and Palestine armed groups. Thousands have been killed and an estimated 1.5 million people have been displaced – more than half of them children.
Fatima*, 23, is part of our She Leads consortium, a regional programme that supports girls and young women in the Middle East to speak up for their rights and lead change in their communities and beyond. Currently displaced in Gaza with her family, Fatima shares a little about her situation and her hope for an end to the conflict.
“We had to leave our house because our area was no longer safe. We are currently in another house that’s just a little, a tiny little, bit safer, considering that in Gaza, all locations are unsafe. Nowhere is far from the bombing, and the probability of being killed is never far away.
We are in range of being bombed, being killed, and being gone in seconds. The situation here is honestly bad but thankfully we are alive. We see how other countries are standing with us, which gives us strength. And what is personally keeping me strong is the Girls Lead group which makes me feel like I have a second family.
I don’t want to die because there are people that I want to spend more time with. Usually, we don’t have a problem with death as we believe that it is normal to become martyrs. However, I don’t know. This is the first time I have felt that I don’t want to die because there are people that make me feel like I want to spend more time with them and want to see them more.
I have so many things that I still want to do and many dreams that I want to achieve. Life here has become abnormal because nothing is ordinary anymore. I feel we will need a lot of time to get back to normal and deal with matters in an ordinary way. This is because everything here is in chaos, all the things we see, hear, and even where we live.
I am really sorry that I can’t take part in the She Leads activities at the moment. I was really very excited join in with the activities, to make my voice heard, and to share everything I wanted to say to people. I would really like to thank you (the She Leads coordinator) for being present, for supporting me and for being there by my side.
I want to support the children in Gaza, to let them know that they can contribute to change, they can be better, and learn more. I also want to share my experiences at a higher level, so I hope that everything will end soon and we can go back to our activities and do everything we were planning to do.
I have a lot to say but I don’t know what to say. I hope that once the war ends, we can meet again and speak more. The most important thing is that you are well and safe. It’s funny that I am telling you to stay safe as if you were also here in Gaza. Wherever you are, stay safe and take care of yourselves.”
As a humanitarian organisation that advocates for the rights of children everywhere, we are devastated and horrified by the conflict that has erupted in Gaza and Israel. Right now, children in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel are suffering when they should be living their lives without violence and fear.
We urgently need your support to protect children and families fleeing violence. You can donate to our appeal and sign our petition calling on Foreign Minister Penny Wong, for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and increase in humanitarian assistance to Gaza.
*Name changed to protect identity.