BROKEN HOMES Addressing the Impact of House Demolitions on Palestinian Children & Families Palestinian boys search the rubble of dozens of houses demolished by the Israeli army on the border between Rafah and Egypt on June 2, 2004. PHOTO/ Apollo images. Broken Homes: Addressing the Impact of House Demolitions on Palestinian Children & Families ©All rights reserved April 2009 Issued by Palestinian Counselling Centre Beit Hanina-entrance to the Garden of Eden P. O. Box: 17402, Jerusalem Telephone: 00972-2-6562272 or 00972-2-6562627 Fax: 00972-2-6562271 E-mail: [email protected] com Save the Children UK P. O. Box: 18117, Jerusalem 91180
Telephone: 00972-2-5838594 Fax: 00972-2-5838595 www. savethechildren. org. uk Welfare Association P. O. Box: 25204, Jerusalem Telephone: 00972-2-2415130 Fax: 00972-2-2975984 www. welfare-association. org Cover image: A Palestinian child stands in a camp for Palestinians displaced in Gaza in Israel’s Dec. ‘08 – Jan. ‘09 offensive. Two hundred and fifty families live in this camp, where Save the Children established a child- friendly space as part of its program. Credit: O. Damo Designed by: Marwan Hamad, InterTech, Ramallah Palestinian Counselling Centre The Palestinian Counselling Centre (PCC) was established by a group f psychologists, sociologists and educators in 1983 to work towards improving and developing mental health and services in Palestine. The Centre began operating voluntarily by working in schools to increase awareness of the importance of counselling and intervention for children exposed to political abuse and violence. Public services in the field of mental health were at that time confined to Bethlehem’s mental hospital, which treats the seriously mentally ill, as well as private clinics of a few psychiatrists. Biochemical treatment (medicine and electric shock) and behavioural therapy were the only two thera- eutic methods in use. The PCC has sought to educate about a broader range of mental health op- tions, coping skills and treatments. Save the Children-UK in the OPT Save the Children UK began pro- viding health services to Palestinian refugees living in Lebanese camps in 1949, following the exodus of Palestinians from the newly-cre- ated state of Israel. Following the signing of the Oslo Accords and formation of the Palestinian Au- thority in 1994, we increased our support for partner organisations in the OPT, focusing on technical assistance in health and education. We established a full-time pres- nce in the OPT in 2002. Current- ly, our programme consists of pro- viding emergency support in Gaza, protecting children in their schools and communities, and promoting and protecting children’s rights. Welfare Association Welfare Association (WA) is a private, non-profit foundation established in Geneva in 1983 to support Palestinian society in sustainable development. It has become better known in Palestine and the Arab region by its Arabic name, Ta’awoun, meaning ‘coop- eration’. WA beneficiaries are the more than four million Palestin- ians who are served by Palestinian non-governmental organizations, ommunity institutions and chari- table organizations in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Galilee, Jaffa, Akka, Nazareth and Naqab, as well as in refugee camps in Lebanon. WA works by strengthening local organizations, and assisting them in improving their services to the community and in promoting Pales- tinian culture, heritage and identity. Acknowledgments To all those who contrib- uted to the success of this research, the children and families, and the project coor- dinating committee 4 TABLE OF CONTENTS 1- Executive Summary …………………………………………………………………………….. 7 – Introduction…………………………………………………………………………………………… 10 House Demolitions and Internal Displacement in the Occupied Palestinian Territory ………………. 10 House Demolitions: A Backgrounder …………………………………………… 11 Why Are Houses Demolished? ……………………………………………………… 12 What Happens When a House is Demolished? ………………………. 13 How Do House Demolitions Impact Communities? ……………… 14 Related International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law.. 16 3- Studying the Impact f House Demolitions on Children & Families …………………………….. 18 About This Study …………………………………………………………………………………. 18 House Demolitions: The Day of and the Day After ………………… 18 On the Day of the Demolition ………………………………………………….. 18 The Demolition Process ………………………………………………………………. 19 Following the Demolition ……………………………………………………………. 21 On the Day of the Study Interview ………………………………………… 5 Mental Health Findings …………………………………………………………………. 27 4- What is Being Done? ………………………………………………………………………… 34 5- Conclusion …………………………………………………………………………………………… 36 Wider Consequences of No Response ……………………………………… 39 6- Recommendations …………………………………………………………………………….. 40 7- Annex – Research Methodology …………………………………………………… 3 8- Endnotes ……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 47 5 6 Mother of activist Rayad Abu Daher inspects damage at her home in the West Bank city of Ramallah, May 14, 2004. Israeli forces destroyed their home to punish Abu Daher, who is accused of planning attacks on Israelis. PHOTO/OSAMA SILWADI 1 – EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 7 Since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank, including Jerusa- lem and Gaza, it is estimated that Israeli civil and military authorities have destroyed 24,000 Palestinian homes in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT).
The rate of house demolitions has risen significantly since the second Intifada began in September 2000 and, as this study shows, house demolitions have become a major cause of forced displacement in the OPT. When a home is demolished, a family loses both the house as a financial asset and often the property inside it. For the families surveyed in this study these losses respectively totalled an average of approximately $105,090 and $51,261 per family. 1 But the impact goes beyond loss of physical property and economic opportunity. This report is unique in the connection it makes be- tween the impact of house demoli- ions on children and their families, and the responsibility of duty bear- ers to protect and assist. Using structured mental health questionnaires, semi-structured questionnaires of the family’s demolition experience and socio- economic conditions, and open interviews with families, this study depicts a portrait of Palestinian families who have experienced house demolitions. This depiction enables the humanitarian commu- nity to better advocate for an end to demolitions and, in the interim, put in place a comprehensive and coordinated response for families who are facing displacement due to demolition or other factors. They told us that we could return at five o’clock, but where were we supposed to go after they demolished our home? It’s gone. ” The main findings of the study were: House demolitions cause dis- placement. Fifty-seven percent of 56 families surveyed never returned to their original resi- dences. Those who did return, on average, spent over a year displaced before returning. House demolitions are fol- lowed by long periods of instability for the family, with over half of the families who responded taking at least two years to find a permanent residence. At the time of interviewing, the average monthly income of amilies surveyed was NIS1,561 (USD 355) – well below both the absolute (deep) and rela- tive poverty lines. 2 Compared to children of similar demographics living in the same geographical locations, children who have had their home demolished fare significantly worse on a range of mental health indicators, including: withdrawal, somatic complaints, depression/anxiety, social diffi- culties, higher rates of delusion- al, obsessive, compulsive and psychotic thoughts, attention difficulties, delinquency, violent behaviour – even six months after the demolition. Families also report deteriora- tion in children’s educational chievement and ability to study. A fundamental factor affecting the child’s mental health follow- ing demolition is the psycho- logical state of the parents, yet one-third of the parents were in danger of developing men- tal health disorders and some reported that the demolition precipitated a decline in their physical health also. The social support that par- ents receive and their ability to employ coping strategies for themselves and their children (usually determined by proxim- ity to the original home and the family’s cultivated network of resources) may mitigate some of the detrimental effects.
Maintaining the mother’s mental health is particularly crucial for children under 12. 8 Based on its findings, the study recommends that all stakeholders-Israel, the Palestinian Authority, the international community and donor governments- act immediately to respond to house demolitions within the OPT by fulfilling their obligations to protect children and their families according to international humanitarian and international human rights law, in particular the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. In particular, the report’s authors call on Israel, the ccupying power in the OPT, to halt the policy of house demolitions, which violates its responsibil- ity to protect the civilian population in accordance with the laws of armed conflict and human rights law. Alongside advocacy on prevention, the interna- tional community (including donor governments) should support a United Nations-led inter-agency response to alleviate the wide range of health, so- cial and economic problems resulting from house demolitions and the broader problem of forced displacement in the OPT. 9 2 – INTRODUCTION HOUSE DEMOLITIONS AND INTERNAL DISPLACEMENT IN THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY Far from being confined to a discrete war in 1948, the conflict which triggered Pales- tinian flight has persisted over six decades… In the occupied Palestinian territory, refugees are repeatedly displaced in the wake of armed incursions, home demolitions and air strikes-and even checkpoints and the separation barrier. ” —United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Commissioner General, Jan. 2008 The demolition of a home not only destroys a physical structure, but has numerous other consequences: it tears down the family structure, increases poverty and vulnerability, and ultimately displaces a family rom the environment that gives it cohesion and support. This has long term physical and mental health consequences. While forced displacement is an acknowledged part of Palestinian history, it is often discussed as a limited historical phenomenon that occurred during the Arab-Israeli wars that produced hundreds of thousands of refugees and inter- nally displaced persons (IDPs). But Palestinians, both refugee and non-refugee, are still being dis- placed today. One of the primary vehicles for their displacement is the Israeli policy of house demoli- tions. In recent years, ongoing internal displacement in the occupied
Palestinian territory (OPT) has received increasing attention from international human rights, humanitarian and development agencies. Nevertheless, monitor- ing and documentation of internal displacement in the OPT has been largely ad hoc, and the numbers of internally displaced and the impact of displacement on their lives have not been systematically recorded. In an effort to contribute to this expanding discussion, our study presents a portrait of families whose houses have been demol- ished, emphasizing the mid- and long-term impact of house demoli- tion on children and families. We have asked these families ques- ions related to their economic status, mental and social health, and the fulfilment of basic needs: food, education, and housing. “There are numerous interacting social, psychological and biological fac- tors that influence whether people develop psychological problems or exhibit resilience in the face of adversity,” 3 and this study seeks to illustrate these various influences. In addition, the study makes a preliminary assessment of these families’ ability to return to their places and communities of origin or resettle to a new community, and the impediments that may subsequently arise. We are concerned that families ho experience house demoli- tion fall into a protection abyss, without a coordinated safety net to support them and their additional needs. This paper concludes therefore by outlining the basic principles 10 Children are deeply impact- ed by house demolitions. In Gaza, 35,224 children were impacted when 7,342 houses were entirely or partially destroyed by Israeli forces between 2000 and 2007. 28% of children surveyed in Gaza had witnessed the demolition of a friend’s home and nearly 19% had witnessed the demolition of their own home. for an appropriate response to house demolitions, making recom- endations for the Israeli govern- ment, the Palestinian Authority, the international community and civil society groups, while keeping in mind the broader framework of forced displacement. HOUSE DEMOLITIONS: A BACKGROUNDER Since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, it is estimated that Israeli civilian and military authorities have destroyed 24,130 Palestinian homes in the OPT. 4 The rate of house demolitions and evictions has risen significantly since the beginning of the second Intifada in September 2000. Ac- c
ording to the Israeli Commit- tee against House Demolitions (ICAHD), between 1994 and 2000 hen Palestinians and Israelis were engaged in negotiations, 740 Pales- tinian homes were demolished in Israeli military operations. 5 By comparison, between October 2000 and 2004, 5,000 homes were demolished during military opera- tions. 6 The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) systematically began tracking homes demolished in the OPT in 2006. From that year to July 2008, 989 structures were demolished (639 in the West Bank and 350 in the Gaza Strip), of which 52% were residential. While this appears to mark a decline in the number of homes demolished, ICAHD notes that Israeli authori- ies have demolished increasingly larger structures, which house more people. The demolition of homes causes the forced displacement of their residents. In the West Bank alone, the destruction of some 3,302 homes between 2000 and 2004 meant the displacement of ap- proximately 16,510 people. 7 The Israeli incursion into Jenin Camp in 2002 displaced approximately 4,000 people. Nearly all of the 232 people displaced in Nablus over the past two and a half years lost their homes in military operations. 8 Tens of thousands of additional homes have been damaged to the point of being uninhabitable during military incursions.
In Gaza, from 2000 to 2007, the partial or total destruction of 7,342 houses, largely as a result of Israeli military activity, impacted 69,350 residents, among them 34,224 children. 9 During 2008, 1,151 Palestinians- including a confirmed 419 children and an additional estimated 194 children 10 – were displaced or af- fected 11 by the demolition of 156 residential structures in the OPT. 12 Of these, 87 houses were demol- ished and 404 Palestinians (includ- ing 227 children) were displaced in East Jerusalem alone. 13 In addition, over 4,000 homes were demol- ished between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009 during Israel’s 11 ilitary operation in Gaza 14 and at the peak of hostilities, 200,000 people were estimated to be displaced-among them 112,000 children. 15 In a 2008 Gaza study, 28 percent of children surveyed had witnessed the demolition of a friend’s home and nearly 19 percent had wit- nessed the demolition of their own home. 16 WHY ARE HOUSES DEMOLISHED? Various explanations are given by Israeli authorities for the de- molition of Palestinian homes. The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem documented the official reasons given for the demolition of over 4,100 Palestinian houses in the OPT between 2000 and 2004. Sixty percent were demolished n ‘clearing operations’ (i. e. mass demolitions); 25 percent were destroyed for the lack of build- ing permits; and 15 percent were destroyed as punishment against accused militants. 17 In this latter case, 32 percent of the individuals were in Israeli detention, 21 per- cent were ‘wanted’, and 47 percent were already dead. 18 When the homes of suspected militants are demolished, they are usually de- molished without prior warning. 19 In some cases, residents were not able or were not given the oppor- tunity to evacuate and died in the building’s collapse. 20 SECURITY RATIONALE When demolishing houses of Pal- stinians suspected of committing security offences, Israeli authorities refer to article 119 (1) of the 1945 Defence (Emergency) Regulations approved by the British govern- ment at the time of the British Mandate in Palestine: A Military Commander may by order direct the forfeiture by the Govern- ment of Palestine of any house, structure, or land from which he has reason to suspect that any firearm has been illegally discharged, or any bomb, grenade or explosive or incendiary article illegally thrown, or of any house, structure or land situated in any area, town, village, quarter or street the inhabitants or some of the nhabitants of which he is satisfied have committed, or attempted to commit, or abetted the commission of, or been accessories after the fact to the commission of, any offence against these Regulations involving vi- olence or intimidation or any Military Court offence; and when any house, structure or land is forfeited as afore- said, the Military Commander may destroy the house or the structure or anything growing on the land. 21 The Israeli Supreme Court regards the Defence (Emergency) Regula- tions as a section of Israeli local law, despite the fact that they were rescinded at the end of the British Mandate. 22
Israeli authorities began applying those regulations to the OPT in 1967. 23 ADMINISTRATIVE RATIONALE Due to restrictive zoning and urban planning, bureaucratic and financial obstacles, Palestinians seek to resolve urgent housing needs by building without an official permit, despite the risk of subsequent 60% of 4,100 Palestinian houses demolished between the years 2000 and 2004 were demolished in military ‘clearing’ operations. 25% were destroyed for lack of building permits. 15% were destroyed to punish accused militants. 12 demolition. Three-hundred and twenty-five homes, over half (184) of them in Jerusalem, were demol- shed in the West Bank due to the lack of building permits between the years 2004 and mid-2007, ac- cording to B’Tselem. 24 Throughout the West Bank, but in Jerusalem in particular, observ- ers note clear discrimination in the application of building regu- lations and punishment meted out. Between 1996 and 2000, for example, the number of recorded building violations was four and a half times higher in Israeli neigh- bourhoods of Jerusalem (17,382 violations) than in Palestinian neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem (3,846 violations). But the number of demolition orders over this pe- riod issued in West Jerusalem was our times less (86 orders) than the number in East Jerusalem (348 orders). 25 “In other words, while over 80 percent of building violations were recorded in West Jerusalem, 80 percent of actual demolition orders were issued for buildings in Palestin- ian East Jerusalem,” according to the World Bank. 26 Between 1999 and 2003, 157 Palestinian-owned build- ings were demolished in Jerusalem by Israeli authorities, compared to only 30 Israeli-owned buildings. Many families continue to live with the threat of displacement through house demolition. In 2005, there were more than 10,000 outstand- ing demolition orders for Palestin- an homes in East Jerusalem alone. 27 WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A HOUSE IS DEMOLISHED? Once a home is demolished, the family loses both the house as a financial asset and often the prop- erty inside it; in addition it is liable for the costs of the house demoli- tion which can run up to tens of thousands of dollars. To avoid these costs, Palestinians subject to ad- ministrative house demolitions may “opt” to undertake the demolition of their own home and pay a small- er fine in a deal with authorities. It is not known how many Palestin- ians choose this route; however, ICAHD fears that their numbers rival those whose homes are de- olished by the authorities. 28 The demolition of inhabited struc- tures may affect many families at a time. Often in the OPT, the entire extended family lives in close prox- imity to one another, and even in the same building. The demolition of one structure therefore, or col- lective demolitions within a defined area, can destroy not just the family domicile but also each nuclear family’s most immediate source of support and social capital. When a house is demolished, indi- viduals must cope with the trauma in an environment of family trauma, which makes it much more difficult to receive the needed care. For hildren, who would normally be protected and cared for by their parents, the initial trauma is magni- fied. Depression, for instance, is one prevalent symptom after the ex- perience of trauma, especially one of loss. One study published on the psychological impact of house demolition showed a tendency among mothers in these families to develop symptoms of depression. 29 Other studies have discussed the impact on children of parental de- pression. They show that children tend to experience behavioural and emotional disturbances 30 when parents are not able to meet the children’s needs due to distraction with their own. 3 HOW DO HOUSE DEMOLITIONS IMPACT COMMUNITIES? PROTECTED PERSONS House demolitions frequently impact Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons, as well as other protected groups. Palestin- ian refugees comprise the largest and longest-standing unresolved refugee case in the world today. In 2007, there were an estimated seven million Palestinian refugees worldwide and 450,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Israel and the OPT. 31 The rights of Palestinian refugees and IDPs are guaranteed under international human rights and hu- manitarian law, which includes the Fourth Geneva Convention, the
UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, UN General Assem- bly Resolution 194, and UN Secu- rity Council Resolution 237. COMMUNITIES AT RISK In 2008, UN agencies confirmed that 198 communities in the OPT currently face forced displace- ment because of their proximity to settlements or their locations within so-called closed military zones. This includes 81 communities of 260,000 Palestinians and semi-nomadic Bedouin living between the Wall (a series of cement walls, barbed wire and “smart” fencing being con- structed in the West Bank by Israel) and the 1948 “Green Line” that demarcates the boundary between Israel and the OPT.
Ma’an Develop- ment Centre has also identified an additional 98 enclaves or areas in the West Bank where communities are surrounded by the Wall and settlements, or other Israeli infra- structure, in a manner that restricts Palestinian movement. The 312,810 Palestinians living in these enclaves are particularly vulnerable to inter- nal displacement, in part because they are more likely to have their homes demolished. The 1993 Oslo agreements signed between Israel and Palestinians designated 60 percent of the West Bank as Area C, which falls under Israeli civil and security control. Over 94% of applications for build- ng permits in Palestinian commu- nities located in these areas were denied by Israeli authorities be- tween January 2000 and Septem- ber 2007. (Prior to the late-1970s when Israel began its settlement enterprise in the OPT, permits to build were readily granted to Palestinians. ) 32 Building continues “In September 2007 the Special Rapporteur visited Al Hadidiya in the Jordan Val- ley where the structures of a Bedouin community of some 200 families, comprising 6,000 people, living near to the Jewish settlement of Roi, were demol- ished by the IDF. This brought back memories of the practice in apartheid South Africa of egardless, as Palestinians try to meet their housing needs; between January 2000 and September 2007, 5,000 demolition orders were issued and over 1,600 Palestinian buildings were demolished. 33 In the Gaza Strip, the creation of a 500-metre to one-kilometre wide military ‘buffer zone’ along the Egyptian border has transformed former residential areas into mili- tary no-go zones. 34 Sixteen thou- sand people in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah—more than 10 percent of its population—had lost their homes by 2004. 35 In June 2006, as many as 5,100 Palestin- ians were displaced in a series of Israeli military incursions in the
Gaza Strip. 36 THE BEDOUIN 14 unlicensed homes was criticized as “discriminatory” in a 2007 Human Rights Watch report which called for a moratorium on the policy. 37 While our report focuses on the OPT, studies of house demolitions in the Negev reflect similar impacts on children. “House demolition is a traumatic and difficult event for all the members of the family,” said Alean al-Krenawi in an opinion written for Physicians for Human Rights. “The existence of the home fills a vital and basic need for chil- dren, and its absence impairs the development of safe and adaptive relationships. ” 38 Bedouin who were displaced to he West Bank face a similar dilem- ma. 39 It is estimated that there are 6,000 Bedouin families in the West Bank. As Israel expands strategic settlements in the Jerusalem area, Bedouin living in open areas are increasingly vulnerable to demoli- tion orders and eviction. 40 Moreover, when displaced, the Bedouin have limited coping resources. They are reliant upon herding with few opportunities for other income-raising activities. They have little social standing in an area where urban class structures dominate. The Bedouin also are largely ignored by the Palestinian Authority, 41 increasing their vulner- ability.
As a group on the margins now facing house demolition and evictions, the Bedouin represent the worst case scenario of house demolition and displacement. The Israeli policy of house demo- lition has had particular conse- quences for the Bedouin popula- tion inside Israel and the OPT. Tens of thousands of Bedouin, indig- enous Palestinian residents of the Negev (Naqab) before the state of Israel was created, live in com- munities unrecognized by Israel. Nearly 40 percent of the residents of the unrecognized villages in the Negev are under the age of nine. Construction in these villages is prohibited. As a result, 45,000 tructures have been built ‘illegally’ in southern Israel, according to the Israeli Ministry of Interior, and could be ordered demolished. The escalating practice of demolishing destroying black villages (termed “black spots”) that were too close to white residents. Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the destruction of personal property ‘except where such destruction is rendered absolutely neces- sary by military operations’. ” —The UN Special Rap- porteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestin- ian territories occupied since 1967, 21 January 2008. 15 RELATED INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN AND HUMAN RIGHTS LAW
Fourth Geneva Convention Article 53 Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is pro- hibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations. Article 33 No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penal- ties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited; Pillage is prohibited; Reprisals against rotected persons and their property are prohibited. Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement 1. Every human being shall have the right to be protected against being arbitrarily displaced from his or her home or place of habitual residence. 2. The prohibition of arbitrary displacement includes displacement: (a) When it is based on policies of apartheid, “ethnic cleansing” or similar practices aimed at/or resulting in altering the ethnic, religious or racial composition of the affected population; (b) In situations of armed conflict, unless the security of the civilians involved or imperative military reasons so demand; c) In cases of large-scale development projects, which are not justified by compelling and overriding public interests; (d) In cases of disasters, unless the safety and health of those affected requires their evacuation; and (e) When it is used as a collective punishment. 3. Displacement shall last no longer than required by the circumstances. 16 Convention on the Rights of the Child Article 9 1. States Parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will… Article 24 1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health…
States Parties shall strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to such health care ser- vices. Article 27 1. States Parties recognize the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development… 3. States Parties, in accordance with national conditions and within their means, shall take appropriate measures to assist parents and others responsible for the child to implement this right and shall in case of need provide material assistance and support programmes, particularly with regard to nutrition, clothing and housing.
Article 28 1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity… Article 31 1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts. Article 38 1. States Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for rules of international humanitarian law applicable to them in armed conflicts which are relevant to the child… 4.
In accordance with their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect the civilian population in armed conflicts, States Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure protection and care of children who are affected by an armed conflict. 17 3 – STUDYING THE IMPACT OF HOUSE DEMOLITIONS ON CHILDREN & FAMILIES ABOUT THIS STUDY Many studies have been conducted on the policy of house demoli- tion in the OPT. Most have been primarily legal studies, combining theory, description and analysis and sidelining practical assessment of individual responses and needs. 42 A significant number of papers have een written on the psychological impact of house demolition and its effect on children or adults. 43 Yet, none have taken a ‘whole person’ approach, tackling the policy’s impact on the individual, his or her family and the wider socio-eco- nomic environment. This study draws a portrait of Palestinian families who have experienced house demolitions, describing their needs and cop- ing mechanisms in order to make recommendations for an appro- priate coordinated humanitarian response. To do so, it uses struc- tured mental health questionnaires, semi-structured questionnaires of the family’s socio-economic condi- ions and the events of the demo- lition, and open interviews with families. (For a detailed description of the survey methodology, see the Annex. ) Full profiles were collected from 56 families whose houses were de- molished by Israeli military forces between the years 2000 and 2006, except for two families whose houses were demolished in 1992 and 1994. (Fifty-nine families were approached in this study and 58 families provided detailed socio- economic profiles, while 56 families gave detailed information on the demolition of their home. ) In addition, open interviews were carried out with seven of the families surveyed. The interviews ere carried out with a family from Rafah; the parents and two children of a family from Ramallah; a mother and her daughter from Bethlehem; a father from Bethlehem; and two children from two different families and a mother from a third family from Jenin refugee camp. HOUSE DEMOLITIONS: THE DAY OF AND THE DAY AFTER The data collected illustrates the transformation in the families be- tween the time of the demolition and the study interview, looking at socio-economic factors, health needs, assistance provided, as well as mental health developments: ON THE DAY OF THE DEMOLITION A Portrait of Families Surveyed “We had at our home swings, roses, ig trees-everything was gone. There were a lot of memories [there]… Right after the holiday feast, our house was demolished. ” —Duha, 15, Ramallah On the day their home was de- molished, the number of people present in the homes of families interviewed were 237 children under 18 years of age (123 male and 114 female) and 198 adults (98 male and 100 female). Three of the children were under three months old, three children 18 were between three and six months old, and eight children were between six months and one year old. The average number of family members living in the houses on the day of the demolition (the above numbers include isitors and extended family) was 8. 4. An average of 66% (5. 5) of family members were under 18. On the day of the demolition, there were ten pregnant wom- en present (three were more than six months pregnant, five were in-between the third and fifth month of pregnancy and two women were in the early stages of pregnancy). At the time of demolition, there were four adults suf- fering from poor health and critical disabilities present; two suffering from failing eyesight, one was mentally disabled and another had cancer. Three people suffering from disabilities or chronic diseases were injured during the course of the Israeli military demoli- ion of their home. 39% of the families (23) were from refugee camps, 37% were from towns (22), and 24% (14) were from villages. THE DEMOLITION PROCESS Destruction of Property, Arrests & Physical Injury “Previously our life was better than it is today. They took my father and de- molished our house. Our house now is like the one before it, but without my toys and storybooks that I used to read. All our things were charred and burnt, and our house and our neighbor’s house were spilling open in front of each other after the de- molition. I used to sit by myself and imagine it as it was in my memory, but it was hard sometimes to imag- ne it like before. When I went back after the demolition, I could hardly look at it and so I left and sat on the street below. ” —Saji, 13, Bethlehem House demolitions are often accompanied by injuries, ar- rests and even the death of family members. Severe health problems can follow the trauma of house demolition. Ahmad, in his 50s, experienced the demolition of his Bethlehem-area home twice. His family’s house was first demolished in June 2004 in a military operation. Two years later, in November 2006, the house was issued a demolition order and again demolished. Most of the family was living in a rented apartment and Ah- ad was there when he heard that the Israeli military had surrounded his old home and ordered all the residents outside. The soldiers kept calling on Ahmad’s [adult] son to come out or they would destroy the house, but the father felt sure that his son was not inside. Only after the house was demol- ished was his son’s body found in the rubble. Subsequently, the elderly man refused to leave the house, stopped participating in social events, didn’t go to work and ended his hobby as a referee in the local football league. He told interviewers: “I didn’t care that the house was demolished, or even for the neighbors, only that this ime my beloved son was lost. My mental state was terrible. My wife became ill psychologically. We are not a family now, but destroyed. They op- pressed us when they immorally and illegally killed my son, as he sat in his own home. ” 19 The family of Duha, 15, unwittingly rented out an apartment in their building to a wanted man. One night, the Israeli military arrived and soldiers told her family and the other resi- dents to leave. The families waited in suspense for hours. Duha was in an apartment across the street. “I was so afraid and terrified,” she told interviewers. “It was the first time I was afraid this way. I couldn’t stand it.
My nephew was with me, too. I tried to talk to him to pass the time and ignore what was happening outside with the soldiers. I decided to stop crying. I kept myself calm by playing with my nephew. ” By morn- ing, soldiers had shot and killed the wanted man. But they were not finished-they planned to demolish the apartment building to punish the family. “[When] we asked the soldiers to allow us to get some things before they demolished our house, they refused,” Duha remembered. “After a while, they allowed my brother and two of my youngest sisters to go inside to get our things. They refused to let my other sister get her identity card.
We lost 300 shekels that belonged to my sister; my sister-in-law lost her money and her gold. 41% of the 56 homes studied were said to be demolished for military reasons, 27% de- molished as a punitive mea- sure, and 13% demolished for alleged lack of building permits. The 11 remaining houses were demolished for unknown reasons. Over half (52%) of the homes of the 56 families in our survey were demolished in a collec- tive demolition, where a series of homes or a neighbourhood was razed. Palestinians were injured in 22 of the house demolition events. Three of the inju- ries were incurred by family members to whom the homes belonged.
One family member was killed during the demolition, and one woman died from injuries in- curred during the demolition. Families reported debilitat- ing changes in family mem- bers’ physical health-including stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure-following the demolition of their homes. Arrests occurred during seven demolitions. “Even the things that we got out of the house were shredded and damaged because the soldiers shot at them. My mother kept some of her shredded clothes as keepsakes. After that, we ran away. They told us that we could return at five o’clock, but where were we supposed to go after they demolished our home?
It’s gone. ” Only 13% of the 56 families said they were able to remove belongings from the home before it was demolished. 44 All of the families surveyed lost property. The average losses incurred in the demolition of these buildings were esti- mated at JD73,490 (approx. $105,090). The average losses incurred in destroyed posses- sions and building contents were estimated at JD35,847 (approx. $51,261) per family. 20 “My wife became ill psychologically. We are not a family now, but destroyed. ” Study Families Compared to the Average Palestinian Family FOLLOWING THE DEMOLITION Displacement & Insecurity Amal lives in Bethlehem and is the ife of detainee Isam Baker. Her house was demolished to punish her husband who was, at that time, wanted by Israeli authorities and in hiding. “When we first left [the demolished house], my daughter asked me, ‘Where are we going to go? ’” Amal recalled. “Houses aren’t important, but the children were hard-hit psy- chologically. I have a son entering first grade who was sleeping next to his sisters when the soldiers came. They grabbed him right away, and he saw the soldiers and was afraid. Now at night, he wakes up crying. When he wants something, it is like he is not my son—he shouts and cries. He is now ten years old, and it affects his tudies. When he opens a book, he keeps it open on the same page. Before the fear and what happened to my husband, they did better aca- demically and got good grades. When I asked about my son Bilal in 2nd grade, the teachers used to say that he answers right away. He was get- ting 95s, but now only with difficulty will he not repeat the year. ” 21 57% of the 56 families sur- veyed never returned to their original residence. – Of those who did not return, half (15 families) said that the Immediately after the house demolition, only two families of 56 were able to remain in their homes (these homes were only partially demolished). 45 20 of the other families went to live with relatives. – 19 families rented apart- ments, three stayed in tents, one was housed in a hospital and another in a school, one reported being in the ‘street’. – This led to crowded living conditions, with one family cramming 30 people in one room. The average number of people in a room in this initial period was 4. 9. (In 2008, the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics put average housing density in the OPT at 1. 7 per room. ) Duha’s mother described the fam- ily’s new living conditions after Israeli soldiers demolished their Ramallah home to punish them for renting an apartment to a wanted Palestinian. No one wants to lease us an apart- ment because we are 15 people – 10 girls and three boys and me and my husband,” she said. The night the building was demolished we went to my brother’s house. The next day in the morning (it has been one year and two months now) we moved to a [temporary housing] container – we got three containers. It was difficult to stay at my brother’s house because they are a big family and we are a big family. Living in the container is hell. Animals lived in the containers before us. I wish it was better. It was difficult during summer and winter. A snake came by my legs as I hung the clothes up to dry.
There is no electric- ity and there is no bathroom. My husband made a makeshift toilet next to the container. We were able Immediately after the demolition, most families are forced to find housing wherever they can, either crowding together or breaking up the family unit. 57% of the 56 families interviewed whose homes were demol- ished never returned to their original residences. Half of those who did not return said that Israeli forces pre- vented them from returning. Others said the original home was not safe. Urban residents may find it easier to return to their homes than do refugee camp residents or villagers. o get electricity, and we fixed up the place and brought in mattresses. Of course, the container is not large enough for one mattress per person. We had more than one container- one for sleeping, one for food and as a kitchen, and one for visitors. We used to relieve ourselves outside. We cannot take a shower. We used to sit on cardboard. ” 22 Ahmad’s Bethlehem home was destroyed twice. “There was no op- portunity to remove our furniture,” recalled Ahmad, “and we had 15 minutes to get our important pa- pers. It was so difficult-we had no recourse, no court [of appeal], no choice but to see our home demol- ished. That night we slept in the treet, since the soldiers turned the place into a closed military area. [Af- terwards], we stayed with family and the neighbours – by god, we spread ourselves between aunts and uncles. The family was dispersed, and this deeply affected us. ” Israeli military authorities pre- vented them from returning (seven in Gaza, six in the West Bank and two in Jerusalem). 46 – Of the remaining families who did not return, 10 said that the area was not secure, two found better employment in a different area, one found assistance elsewhere, and one remained living with their extended family. – Half of those who eventually returned to their reconstruct- d homes were from towns, 36% were from refugee camps, and 14% were from villages. – Most of the families surveyed were from refugee camps, and were unable to return to a reconstructed home. The study indicates that urban residents may find it easier than others to return to their reconstructed homes after the demolition of their houses. Palestinian urban areas are usually administered by Palestinian authorities and experience less interference from the Israeli military than border regions in Gaza or Area C in the West Bank, as de- scribed earlier in this report. 47 71% of the 56 families moved at least twice before settling in place of residence after the demolition of their home. – 20 families moved twice, 12 moved three times, five moved four times, two families moved five times and one family moved seven times. – Two families did not move at all, and 14 families moved just once after the demolition of their home. 61% of the families surveyed experienced at least two years of moving before finding a House demolitions are fol- lowed by long periods of instability for the family. 71% of the 56 families moved at least twice before settling in a place of resi- dence after the demolition of their home. Most families took at least two years to find a perma- ent place of residence. 17% of families (all of them in the Gaza Strip) changed their children’s school after their house was demolished. permanent residence after the day of demolition. 48 – Nine families experienced more than four years of transi- tion (with the majority still not stable in their residence at the time of the interview). – Eight families experienced three to four years of housing instability; four families expe- rienced two to three years; ten families experienced from 23 Saji, age 13, was 11 when her Bethle- hem house was demolished. “We were down by the mosque and heard the sound of the explosion,” she recalled. We sat for an hour outside and it was really cold and I was afraid-very afraid. When I heard the sound of the demolition, I became fearful and angry. I started to cry. Then we went out and saw the apartment destroyed. I was sad afterward. We went to the old house in the refugee camp, but I wasn’t happy in that house. Things were normal; my uncles helped us, supporting my father until we had rebuilt the house and moved back. But I regressed in my studies. I stopped studying and concentrating, although slowly got better. The demolition also affected my friends at school and my relationships. I didn’t like to talk to any- ne because I didn’t want any of them to ask me what happened. ” one to two years; six families from half a year to one year; ten families from one month to half a year of instability; and four families experienced less than one month of instability. – Even families who eventu- ally returned to the site of their demolished homes experienced an average of 13 months displacement before returning. 26% of families experienced the separation of one or more family members from the fam- ily unit after the demolition of their home, affecting 50 of the children surveyed. 49 45% (25) families (at the time of the study) were living in ouses that they owned, 38% (21) families were living in rented houses, 11% (six) were living in houses belonging to the extended family and 7% (four) were living in houses be- longing to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency that provides services to Palestinian refugees. Educational Changes & Decline 17% of families put their 46 children in different schools fol- lowing the demolition of their homes. All of these families were from the Gaza Strip. Data collection for the study took place in the summer of 2007, which did not allow us to collect information from schools, but the testimonies of children and their amilies indicate that most children who have experienced a house demolition have seen a subsequent decline in school achievement. As noted above, a significant number of children are forced to change schools after the demolition of their home. “All our things are gone. There is no money. We were absent from school for one week because we lost our school uniforms, our books and our clothes. Our teachers brought me a school uniform and a bag – at first, I was going to school wearing slip- pers. ” — Duha, 15, Ramallah 24 “At first, I was going to school wearing slippers. ” ON THE DAY OF THE STUDY INTERVIEW Information gathered on the day f the study interview was used to assess the socio-economic and mental health status of the families studied post-house demolition. Poverty & Economic Hardship “There is no income and no money. We wish we could leave, and make a change. Even my father is starting to think about selling the [containers] and leaving the country. Our econom- ic condition and our housing are not good. We are getting nervous… I feel extremely claustrophobic. The situ- ation is getting worse; we can’t stay this way, living in a container… In the winter, the situation was worse. We used to heat with firewood. We could not have a shower or do anything.
Everything smelled smoky, including our clothes. ”— Duha, 15, Ramallah 57% of the 56 families sur- veyed described their eco- nomic status as poor or very poor. – Only 2% of the families de- scribed their economic status as excellent, 10% said their economic status was good, and 41% said theirs was average. – Average monthly fam- ily income at the time of the interview was NIS1,561 (USD 355). 50 In 2006, the absolute (deep) poverty line and the relative poverty line for the average household of six people in the OPT stood at a monthly income of less than 1,837 NIS (USD 414) and 2,300 NIS (USD 518) respectively. The irst refers to a budget for food, clothing and housing, while the second adds other necessities such as health care, education, transportation, personal care and housekeeping supplies. 51 The percentage of unemploy- ment among the male adults was 19. 8%. Among female adults, the unemployment rate was 4. 1%, since 73. 1% of the women identified themselves as homemakers and are not part of the regular labour force. Average unemployment in the OPT in 2007 was 21. 5%. Seven children under the age of 18 had jobs. “I get angry when they ask me what I have cooked. I tell them ‘lentils’, and some days ‘rice with lentils’. They ell us that their stomachs now have roots from the lentils. What can I do? This is what is available. ‘Your father cannot work; he is disabled and I do not work and you are studying. Who then can support you? ’ This is what I tell them… We are forced to take them out of school so that they can work. The work is hard—it is too difficult for them. But children need support—they need food and they need school bags… I feel that I am tired and suffocating. I feel stinging pains in my chest and I am not at ease. What can I do except cry? What can I do? Go beg? ”— Duha’s mother, Ramallah Lack of Assistance “No organization offered to help.
At the beginning, UNRWA offered— they brought us some food, flour and lentils and beans, blankets and kitchen supplies. The Palestinian Counselling Center helped us with the children. The Red Cross brought us some mattresses and blankets; they were not wool. ” — Duha’s mother, Ramallah 25 14 families reported receiving assistance from organizations (governmental organizations included) and eight families reported receiving assistance from their extended families. 22 families reported that the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) arrived on the scene after demolition; 14 reported that the UNRWA was there; eight reported the rrival of Palestinian Author- ity ministry representatives; six reported the arrival of various non-governmental organiza- tions or political parties; three reported more than one orga- nization at once (unspecified); one family reported a response from nobody and two did not answer the question. 52 “After the demolition, I waited for the morning and took my children and returned to the refugee camp. My leg was hurt- ing me and I couldn’t stand. The Red Cross came, but I wasn’t there. They recorded the usual: what did we need them to give us? A tent and house wares. But I had the house in the camp, and the governorate elped us to rent an apartment and the neighbours helped us pay the rent. ”— Saji’s mother, Bethlehem Declining Mental Health How Children Respond When Their Home is Demolished “The house is goodness, and good- ness ended with its demolition. Our health is lost, our children changed for the worse. ”— father, Ramallah When children whose home has been demolished were compared with a control group using mental health questionnaires, all indicators showed comparably worse mental health among the first group, even six months after the time of the demolition (see table below). The child’s experience of the demolition of his or her home ay, therefore, result in long-term trauma. Almost 80 percent of the 103 children for whom data was avail- able witnessed the demolition of their homes (82 vs. 21). There was no difference between the mental health of these children and those who did not see their home de- molished. Nor did girls and boys exhibit no- table differences in mental health indicators, in either the control group or among children whose houses were demolished. 53 Older children did not appear to be better protected against the psychological trauma of house demolitions than their younger peers. 26 Withdrawal “I do not like to hear loud noises or the voices of chil- ren; I love to stay by myself and to sleep. ” —girl, Bethlehem Table on Mental Health Findings – Children Children whose houses were demolished are more withdrawn than other children, preferring to remain alone or stay quiet in the presence of others. Somatic Complaints “I feel I’m suffocating. ” —boy, Ramallah “I was coming from school crying to my mother, telling her that my tummy hurts, crying and refusing to eat or drink. ”—girl, Rafah Children whose houses were demolished complain more than other children of somatic complaints such as dizziness, pain in various parts of the body, and problems in breathing without any known cause.
Anxiety/Depression “My heart has become black in colour. ” —girl, Ramallah Children whose houses were demolished suffer from anxiety and depression more than other children. They cry more, are afraid to go to school, feel they are not loved or that others are bad to them, feel guilty, nervous and are very tense. Social Problems Children whose houses were demolished suffer more than other children from social problems such as dif- ficulty relating to other children, greater attachment to adults, age inappropriate behaviour, or preferring to remain with younger children. Delusions, Obsessions, & Other Problems I took photos of the house on my mobile while [it was] being demolished and I keep replaying it to see it falling. I like to see it because it reminds me of that house. I remember the old days, those sweet days. ” —boy, Ramallah Children whose houses were demolished exhibit de- lusional, obsessive, compulsive, and psychotic thoughts more often than other children. 27 Attention Difficulties “My daughter says, ‘I study and study, but in the exam when the teacher asks me I forget. ’” —mother, Bethlehem “I cannot concentrate in my studies. Today, I mean, I can- not concentrate and I do not like to study. ” —boy, Ramallah. They see photos of demolition and cannot focus. She is in 12th grade, but failed. There is no way to study. There is no place to study. ” —mother, Ramallah Children whose houses were demolished have a hard- er time concentrating than do other children. They are overactive, under-motivated, easily confused and quick to lose focus and daydream. Many of these symptoms are indicative of mental ill- ness including depression. Delinquency Children whose houses were demolished tend more towards delinquency than other children, for example, hanging out with troublemakers, lying and stealing, not showing remorse and running away.
Violent Behaviour “They are driving me crazy. They do not listen to me at all; I do everything by shouting and yelling at them. ” —mother, Bethlehem “I scream at them, and hit them [my brothers and sisters]. I was not like this in the past. I become agitated very quickly. ”—her daughter, Bethlehem. “Their morals have changed. They hit each other; they do not tolerate each other anymore. They are over-sensitive and violent with each other. ”—mother, Ramallah Children whose houses were demolished exhibit vio- lent behaviour more than other children, for example, not responding to others’ requests at home and chool, destroying their property and that of others, acting brusquely with others, fighting frequently and demanding attention. Other Symptoms Parents report bedwetting, thumb-sucking, inappro- priate sexual behaviour and other behaviours more frequently among families whose homes were demol- ished. 28 29 A Palestinian girl east of Jabalia refugee camp walks near a home flattened by Israeli bombardment in the Dec. 2008 – Jan.. 2009 war in Gaza. PHOTO/O. DAMO Table on Mental Health Findings – Adolescents Impact on Adolescents Adolescents in the study were asked directly how they felt, in addition to the recording of their arents’ observations about them. The results echo the findings about all children who have experienced the demolition of their home (see table below). Trauma-Related symptoms “I dream a lot that the army has come into the house and wants to hit me… I cannot sleep sometimes because I remember our house. ” —boy, Ramallah “We were afraid after the demolition. We could not sleep. I was afraid sometimes, that while we were sleep- ing, I would find the house demolished over my head. I was always tense… and I used to cry. ” —girl, Rafah Adolescents whose homes have been demolished suffer from more trauma-related symptoms than their eers. The evidence of this effect is present even six months after the event. Sense of Family Adolescents whose houses were demolished ex- pressed feeling less family coherence than their peers: they felt that family events and their way of life were less comprehensible, more difficult to manage, and less meaningful than did adolescents in the control group. 54 In other words, the family after a home de- molition is less able to help the adolescent understand events, manage daily issues, provide meaning, and fulfil children’s needs. 30 The Parent-Child Relation- ship for Children Under 12 Children under age 12 are more ttached to their parents, unlike adolescents who select their psy- chological resources from a wider environment, including friends, school and the neighbourhood. The interplay of mental health con- ditions and socio-economic factors following the demolition of home results, our study shows, in rising tension between the parents and their children (see table below). Table on Mental Health Findings – Parent-Child Relationship Distractibility and Hyperactivity Increased distractibility and hyperactivity in children whose homes have been demolished increases ten- sion in the child’s relationship with his or her parents. Demanding Behaviour I never [used to] refuse their demands, but I cannot help it. It is a horrible feeling when they ask for some- thing and I cannot afford. I become angry or start to scream at them. What can I do? It is really beyond my capabilities. ”—father, Ramallah “The way we deal with our children has changed; when my daughter asks for a shekel, and I do not have a penny [to give her] it breaks my heart. How should I feel when I cannot give her even one shekel to buy what she wants? ”—mother, Ramallah Families of children whose homes have been demol- ished feel that their children are more demanding than do families in the control group. This increases ension in the family, as parents struggle to meet their own mental health needs and resolve new, difficult economic realities. Depression “I felt my chest hurt, and I don’t feel good. I cannot do anything but cry. I feel comforted when I cry, what else can I do? ”—mother, Ramallah Parents whose homes have been demolished suffer from melancholy and depression more than adults in the control group. This detrimentally impacts their abil- ity to parent, adding to their frustration and distress and exacerbating depression. 31 Health “Our health conditions are poor. My mother–in-law had a stroke after the event, and I suffered from diabetes.
My husband suffered from diabetes and [high blood] pressure, then he had a stroke due to these conditions. I never thought that I would suffer from diabetes. ” —mother, Ramallah “My father suffered from a stroke and stayed in bed. He became very tense and could not stand any of us. The relationship between my siblings and I changed, and we started to say words we had never used before. ” —daughter, Ramallah Families of children who have had their homes demol- ished suffer more from health problems than the con- trol group. This places greater demands on the family unit, diminishes the parents’ sense of self, self-worth nd competence, engenders a sense of failure and aggravates the problems in the relationships between parents and their children. The study found that the greatest sources of tension in the home were—for children—their feelings of being neglected by their parents and—for parents—an increase in depression. It is clear that parents in families who have experienced the demolition of their home re- quire psychosocial support to help them meet their own needs and those of their children. How Parents Respond when their Home is Demolished “One of the most difficult things [to experience] is to be in a house, then to be on the pavement.
How can this be true? There is no clothing, no money… There is no money to buy anything. ”— mother, Ramallah “Their mother then began to suffer from nightmares. When she is sleep- ing at night, she starts screaming. ” —father, Rafah “More than anything, I have become very agitated and my nerves are extremely on edge. ”— mother, Jenin Parents feel great loss after the demolition of their home. Never- theless, they remain responsible for child care, as well as handling the basic demands of daily life. The study found that 97% (92 out of 95) of mothers and fathers whose homes were demolished suffer from trauma-related symp- oms. The Relationship Between the Parents “It was a large building. But at the time of the demolition, what hap- pened happened only to me. Only I collapsed, and after two days I felt a sharp pain in my leg. I have been bothered by it for four years, and should have had an operation but I was pregnant. I used to take 14 aspirin a day, but I didn’t get better. I stayed day and night going and com- ing and wide awake from the pain. The reason for this was that I never shouted and never cried, so it [the pain] came out that way. ” —mother, Bethlehem The study found that if one parent whose house has been demolished 32 xhibits severe symptoms of men- tal illness, the other parent is also likely to experience severe symp- toms. This apparent correlation may be attributable to common features of the trauma that both parents experienced, or to other unknown factors. Having a family member with a severe physical or mental illness imposes additional stresses that can exacerbate predispositions to mental illness. Prevention: Parents’ Mental Health A significant factor in the mental health of children is the psychologi- cal wellbeing of the parents. Our study found that the psychological wellbeing of the mother has far more impact on children than he father’s psychological wellbe- ing. Similar results were observed in the severity of trauma-related symptoms of the adolescents sur- veyed and their correlation to the mother’s psychological state. Other research has shown that a mother’s ability to appropriately nurture and care for children has serious implications for their short medium and long-term neuro bio- logical wellbeing. This has measur- able effects on the development of children’s and adolescents’ brains that can adversely affect them for life unless remedial treatment is provided. 55 In Pale