Palestine: Rehabilitation programme

Reintegration of young people with disabilities and traumas. This programme tries to enable them to re-enter the social and professional world.

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has resulted in thousands of casualties in recent years, who must learn to live with permanent disability. The programme also cares for young people and young adults who are dependent on care due to illness or an accident in civilian life or who have suffered from disabilities since birth. Horyzon supports those affected in their social and professional reintegration.

Background Palestine

2017 was a memorable year in the long history of the Middle East conflict. In 1917 the Balfour Declaration promises the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in the British Mandate of Palestine. In 1947, the UN General Assembly decides to divide Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. In 1967, Israel conquers the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip during the Six-Day War and has occupied these territories ever since. In 1987 the first Intifada, the peaceful and violent uprising of the Palestinians against the Israeli occupation, begins. 2007 Egypt and Israel seal off Gaza after Hamas seized power by force (Source: Bayerischer Rundfunk, 2014). The 51 years of occupation of the Palestinian territories and the 11-year blockade of the Gaza Strip have many negative consequences for the civilian population, such as restricted freedom of movement, physical injuries and psychological trauma or economic hardship.
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has resulted in thousands of casualties in recent years, who must learn to live with permanent disability. These include paraplegia, walking disabilities, visual and perceptual disorders following gunshot wounds and post-traumatic disorders (sleep disorders, depression, paranoia, abandonment of social contacts or apathy).

Young people under 30, who make up over 70% of the total population, find it difficult to find a job once they have completed their training. Unemployment in this age segment is 40% for young men and 63% for young women (source: ILO, 2015). The situation is even more difficult for people with disabilities. About 70% of them have had little or no school education and 87% of people with disabilities over 18 years of age do not work (Source: ILO, 2016).

Target Groups

Every year, some 800 young people, children and young adults with disabilities and traumas throughout the West Bank benefit directly from the programme's services. In addition, around 60 therapists from the programme and other organisations receive training.


The reintegration programme aims to help young people and children and young adults with disabilities and traumas to reintegrate socially and professionally. Mental health in Palestinian society is improved through therapeutic offers and preventive measures.

Activities & Effects

Psychosocial Counselling Services

  • Psychosocial counselling/therapy for young people and young adults.
  • Formation of support teams in the beneficiaries' environment.
  • Contributions to necessary technical assistance and medical treatment.
  • Organization of leisure activities.

Disabled and traumatised young people, children and young adults are better able to deal with their disability/trauma.

School and Vocational Reintegration

  • Vocational counselling, clarification of professional skills and, if required, manual training in our own workshop.
  • Construction of handicapped-accessible access to beneficiaries' homes and public institutions such as schools.
  • Initiation and support of small businesses of disabled and traumatised young adults.
  • Placement and promotion of school reintegration (e.g. remedial education).

The beneficiaries are physically and economically independent.

Awareness Raising and Public Relations Work

  • Advice for the immediate family members of the beneficiaries.
  • Capacity Building for the Palestinian Disability Union.
  • Public events organised by the disabled and traumatised.
  • Annual TV campaigns about trauma and disability.
  • Lobbying activities for disability rights and for the implementation of the Palestinian Disability Act.

Families/relatives and society know the needs and rights of the handicapped/traumatised and provide support.

Further Training for Therapists

  • Carrying out training and further education in therapy methods for therapists of the YMCA East Jerusalem and other organisations.
  • Participation in and participation in national and international conferences on topics such as rehabilitation, trauma or disability rights.

Palestinian therapists are developing their knowledge, skills and treatment techniques.

Results (2018)

Section "Psychosocial Counselling Services"

  • 579 people with disabilities/trauma (Objective 600), of whom 445 or 77% were young people aged 12-25 years, received effective psychosocial and therapeutic support.
  • 7,047 individual therapy sessions were held.
  • In order to ensure the mobility and independence of the beneficiaries, 36 structural adaptations in residential buildings (e.g. construction of wheelchair-accessible ramps at the house entrance, conversion of WC/bathrooms) were supported.
  • 64 beneficiaries received medical aids such as prostheses, walking aids or wheelchairs.
  • Physiotherapy could be organised for 18 people with physical disabilities.

School and vocational reintegration" area

  • 334 beneficiaries (Objective 300) improved their opportunities to be economically active.
  • 94 beneficiaries were able to complete vocational training in their own workshops or in an external company.
  • The programme was able to find 40 beneficiaries a job with private companies.
  • Individual career counselling was provided to 191 beneficiaries, 92 of whom were reached thanks to the mobile counselling unit.
  • The programme supported the development of 9 small businesses, which are run independently by beneficiaries. Of these, 3 were initiated by women.
  • Thanks to remedial education for 199 beneficiaries and transport assistance for 20 beneficiaries a total of 199 young people were able to return or continue to attend school/university.

Awareness raising of families and society" area

  • The family members were included in the therapies and consultations (Objective 1,500 persons; the exact number of family members was not recorded).
  • 67 meetings were held with other NGOs also working in the fields of health and people with disabilities.
  • At 2 meetings with the Ministry of Labour, a list of indicators suitable for the disabled was proposed.
  • 81 workshops and information events were held to raise awareness of the needs and rights of people with disabilities.
  • 27 activities were carried out in schools and universities with the same aim. As a direct result, support committees have been established at 14 schools to promote the rights of pupils with disabilities.
  • 26 leisure and relaxation activities were carried out for traumatised children and their parents.
  • A total of 5,142 people were reached through awareness campaigns.

Continuing education for therapists

  • 99 therapists in the reintegration programme have undergone further training.
  • 171 therapists from other organisations were trained and further educated.
  • 27 students from the fields of social work and psychology completed a four-month internship in the reintegration programme.


Project visits


Further information

Flag of Palestine
Facts about the program

Title: Reintegration of Young People with Disabilities and Traumas in Palestine
Partner organization: East Jerusalem YMCA: Rehabilitation Program
Locations: Beit Sahour, Hebron, Jenin, Jerusalem, Nablus, Ramallah, Tulkarem
Objective: to support children and young adults with disabilities and traumas in their social and professional reintegration, including therapeutic measures
Target group: 600 young people, 200 beneficiaries with career guidance, 160 trained therapists
Required funds 2020: CHF 210'000
Duration: 2018-2020 / Programme Phase VIII
Responsible: Isabelle Aebersold,

Facts about Palestine

Capital: East Jerusalem
Population: 4.9 mill.
Human Development Index: 0.690 (rank 119.)
Life expectancy: 73.9 years
Median age: 20.5 years
Youth unemployment (15-24 years): 46.8%

Source: Human Development Report