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Palestine: Reintegration of youths


The so-called Autonomous Palestinian Territories of Gaza and the West Bank have a population of over 4.3 million. Many of them experienced expulsion from their original homeland as early as 1948, after the foundation of Israel. Since then they have lived as second-class citizens in a country where they have no sense of belonging. The average age of the Palestinian population is under 18, and this young generation, in particular, has virtually no future prospects. Moreover, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has caused permanent injuries to thousands over the last years – people who need to learn to live with disabilities or with post-traumatic stress disorders.


Dual approach

The reintegration programme of YMCA East Jerusalem helps young people and young adults who have suffered physical or psychological harm through the armed conflict. It works in two directions: On the one hand, people with disabilities or traumas are enabled to take an active part in the life of community again. On the other hand, awareness campaigns are run among the population with the aim of reducing prejudice towards people with disabilities.


Giving young people hope for the future

The youth support part of the programme seeks to pursue a comprehensive approach whereby each beneficiary is given the widest possible rehabilitation assistance. This means setting up a specific programme to suit the individual, always with the aim of boosting a person’s self esteem and autonomy. The YMCA offers both therapy and practical support for jobseekers and for anyone starting a job. Workshops and courses are run where young people learn basic job skills and receive support in their search for employment as well as in gaining access to universities or in setting up their own businesses. The programme is currently benefiting over 500 children, young people, young adults and their families.


Strengthening the rights of people with disabilities

Disabled people are often the worst sufferers in a crisis region. The YMCA has therefore set itself the important goal of sustainably improving the position of disabled persons in society. It does so through public events and media activities that provide information about the special needs of disabled people and the consequences of traumas.


Program Info Program Budget 2014
Horyzon is the Swiss development organisation for young people and supports projects in the South and East. CHF 145'000.-


Success Story: Reintegration of Bilal Mahmmud Al-Ghafi-Yatta

In january 2011, Laurent Burst, independent photographer for Horyzon, visited young Palestinians being involved with the YMCA. One of them is Bilal. Aged 19, israeli soldiers shot him in the head while he was trying to save children from the fire zone. His exceptionel story shows the importance of the development project in Palestine.

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Project visit March 2011


Bruno Essig, new project manager at Horyzon, and his predecessor Adamo Antoniadis went visiting their partner projects in Palestine at the end of March 2011. In addition to numerous meetings with YWCA Palestine’s and East Jerusalem YMCA’s local project managers the project visit also offered the possibility to meet people who are directly supported by the projects.


Among other projects I visited East Jerusalem YMCA’s “reintegration programme” in Beit Sahour. Main subjects in the meeting with the people responsible were realised activities and the results for the year 2010. Another topic was the strategic realignment of the project for the years 2012 to 2016. The project managers like accomplishing an internal program analysis as well as a external environmental analysis to coordinate their services offered with poor people’s needs even better in the future.    

It was very impressive and inspiring for me to meet with three young people who are attended by therapists from the reintegration programme. The two young men and the young women are able to live independently again thanks to the work of East Jerusalem YMCA. They also managed to foothold in school and even in the working world.


In the name of all beneficiaries Horyzon’s thank goes to our donors and to all our other supporters of the Palestinian projects.    


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Links to the topic Palestine/Israel

  • SDC in the Westbank/Gaza (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation)
  • OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs)
  • UNDP (UN Development Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People)
  • UNICEF (UNICEF in Occupied Palestinian Territory)
  • UNRWA (UN agency for Palestine refugees)
  • B'Tselem (Israeli information center for human rights in the occupied territories)
  • The Electronic Intifada (Palestinian view on the conflict)

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