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Psychotherapists treat Gaza children victimized by Israeli offensive
August 11,2014   By:Xinhua

GAZA, Aug. 11,2014-- Groups of kids sat in the yard of a school that shelters dozens of displaced Palestinians, who fled their destroyed homes during the ongoing Israeli large-scale offensive on the Gaza Strip, listening to psychotherapists, who came to the school to treat their stress and fear.

When the Israeli offensive was launched on the coastal enclave on July 8, United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) opened most of its schools to shelter around 200,000 people who fled their homes.

Overwhelmed children at UNRWA schools spent their time with psychotherapists, playing entertainment games, drawing pictures and listening to stories as a way to minimize their stress, fear and tension that was a result of the Israeli air and ground bombings falling on their homes.

The mission of psychotherapists is not only amusing the children, but also treating their pain of losing home. Such a situation, fear and displacement caused several mental problems, such as unstable sleeping, bed-witting and nightmares.

UN organizations said in several press statements that they were very much concerned over the future of those children and what they have been subjected to. They said around 400,000 children in the Gaza Strip need urgent psychotherapy to reduce their fear, stress and tension.

Ahmed Badder, one of the local psychotherapists, who work on providing first-aid psychotherapy to children, said all volunteers work on treating the children that were overwhelmed by the intensive striking and bombing all over the Gaza Strip.

"We are divided into groups of psychotherapists and each group goes to a school or to a hospital," said Badder, adding that "it is not an easy job; it is a difficult mission to treat children who are mentally hurt after many of them lost their beloved parents, brothers, sisters and friends."

He added that the most difficult part in their mission was when children ask about where their parents were, where did they go, who took them... in this case, psychotherapists did their best to help the child gradually accommodate with their current situation.

The health ministry in Gaza said that 430 children were killed and around 3,000 injured, adding that they were part of a death toll that hit 1,903.

Derdah al-Sha'er, professor of psychology at al-Aqsa University in Gaza city, said children have been subjected to physical and mental pain during this war.

"In such a situation, I can say that the vast majority of children under the age of 18 have been suffering from psychological troubles during the Israeli war on Gaza," he said.

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