oPt

OPT: Tension in Gaza disrupts life at SOS Children's Village

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Fighting rages in the Gaza Strip between Palestinian factions preventing SOS Children's Villages co-workers from going to work.

Most of the fighting is in the city centre and heavily populated areas such as major refugee camps. Snipers continue to fire on rivalling factions from rooftops of high-rise buildings in the main conflict areas, causing civilians to take refuge in their homes. Though located far from the conflict zones, SOS Children's Villages co-workers are living in a state of fear.

Dr Kamil Al-Shami, co-worker at SOS Children's Village Rafah, said that most SOS co-workers have been unable to leave their homes since the conflict started at the beginning of the week and some are stranded in areas of heavy fighting. Al-Shami said that the gates of SOS Children's Village Rafah have been shut to prevent anyone entering without authorisation.

The SOS Children's Village, he said, is located in a peaceful neighbourhood surrounded by fields on the West, North and South. The Eastern side of the village is near a heavily populated refugee camp, but so far the fighting has not reached this camp. Most of the SOS children remain in the village, but a number of children are visiting their biological families outside the village. Some children are now with their families in some of the areas of intense conflict such as Khan Younis and Gaza City.

Ms Ihsan Redwan, SOS co-worker for the local family strengthening programme, said that she had not been able to leave her home since the conflict started. She described the state of life in Gaza now as a state of terror and despair. She said she could even hear the gunfire from her home and has been unable to follow up on her work in the current situation. Most of the fighting consists of machine-gunfire and short-range locally produced missiles. Tens of deaths have already been reported.