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Gaza’s Youth: Suspended Lives, Fading Opportunities

Courtesy of the International
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

In August 2022, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) conducted an online survey to measure the impact that fifteen years of restrictions on the movement of goods and people has had on the lives of youth in the Gaza Strip. These restrictions have significantly contributed to a steady deterioration in the economic and humanitarian situation in Gaza.

We asked 385 participants who fall under the age group of 18-29 how they were impacted and what the future looks like in their eyes. Youth represent one-fifth of the 2.1 million population of Gaza. A whole generation of youth in the Gaza Strip has grown up knowing only closed borders, and the trauma of conflict and its painful legacies.

  • 8 in 10 youths in Gaza feel they live an “abnormal life.”
  • 9 in 10 youths in Gaza have been affected by the closure.

“The repeated escalations impacted us both economically and emotionally. You don’t need to ask anyone in Gaza about their feelings, as mental health for everybody here has deteriorated. We are daily workers: if we work, today we can put food on the table. If we don’t work, we simply cannot provide that,” said Yasin Haboub, 29 years old.

Mental Health and Social Impact

The needs of youth go beyond the economic dimension in Gaza, as half of the young people say that they endure significant mental health issues and one-third of them face social problems.

  • 5 in 10 youths in Gaza endure stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • 7 in 10 youths in Gaza have social problems.

“We call traveling ‘the journey of torment’. My parents live abroad, and I cannot wait to see them. It’s because of the closure that I cannot reunite with them,” says Nouran Al-Zaeem, 23 years old. “We want to live normally like others abroad. To live freely, be able to travel, have decent jobs, and nothing more,” added Nouran.

The Economic Impact for a Typical Youth in Gaza:

  • Finding a job is extremely difficult.
  • 7 in 10 youths in Gaza are unemployed.

Two thirds of the youth in Gaza depend on their families for income and would accept any job offer, even if it were poorly paid or beneath their qualifications and skills.

3 in 10 youths in Gaza missed a job opportunity abroad because they could not exit on time.

“There are too many graduates in Gaza, and there are no jobs for them, including myself. We Palestinians are trapped in this spot. Nothing is even encouraging to plan for or establish a small business,” said Hind Selmi, 27 years old.

What’s the Future Like for Gaza’s Youth?

  • 7 in 10 youths in Gaza believe there will be new rounds of escalation in the future.
  • 7 in 10 youths in Gaza believe they won’t live to witness a full day of electricity supply.
  • 4 in 10 of youths in Gaza have no hope of getting a job in the next fifteen years.
  • 6 in 10 youths in Gaza believe that travel procedures into and out of Gaza will never improve.

“Adolescence is a key phase for building core life skills and future aspirations. This is difficult and sometimes impossible for youth in Gaza amid rounds of hostilities, closed borders, and lack of hope for a job or stable power supply. As climate change and the limited resources in Gaza make the situation harder for most families, the need for a long-term political solution becomes more and more pressing by the day,” said the head of ICRC’s sub-delegation in Gaza, Mirjam Mueller.

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