Sounding the alarm about a ‘lost generation’ in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in a hard-hitting report released today, Islamic Relief calls for greater investment in young people.

‘Dreams on Hold’: The Plight of Palestinian Youth in Gaza’ highlights the grave difficulties faced by young people as they grapple with the profound socioeconomic impacts of a protracted humanitarian crisis.

“Young people make up more than a third of Gaza’s population, yet are largely disempowered, disenfranchised and disenchanted,” says Shahin Ashraf, Head of Global Advocacy for Islamic Relief Worldwide. “Occupation and blockade are having devastating effects on so many aspects of their daily lives.

“The youth unemployment rate was a staggering 70% even before the Covid-19 pandemic. Restrictions on movement brought in to slow the spread of the deadly virus are pushing unemployment even higher. Underrepresented in formal decision-making structures and unable to see a brighter future, sadly increasing numbers of young people long to emigrate or even resort to taking their own lives.”

Young people as agents of change

The report makes the case for increased support to help young people overcome the socioeconomic and mental health challenges they face. The measures recommended include increasing support for youth entrepreneurship and technical and vocational education and training, enhancing youth employability, and breaking down gender bias.

In addition, it is vital to increase the participation of young people in decision-making processes so young people play a part in developing the solutions to the problems they face.

‘Dreams on Hold’ is informed by a research study carried out in the Gaza Strip by Islamic Relief and the Training and Management Institute (TAMI), which included interviews with young people, government ministers, United Nations agencies, local civil society organisations, technical and vocational education training (TVET) centres, and universities.

Since Islamic Relief began working in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in 1997, we have spent almost £109 million on humanitarian and development programmes to assist the Palestinian people.

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