Ramallah, January 17, 2017—Defense for Children International – Palestine received the 2016 Stars Impact Award at the Philanthropreneurship Forum in Vienna, Austria, on Monday in recognition of its impact on the lives of Palestinian children living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
The Stars Foundation, an independent philanthropic charity based in the UK, awarded 22 other organizations from 11 countries, ranging from Colombia to the Philippines, with the 2016 Stars Impact Award for their work with disadvantaged children. The charity follows a rigorous referral and selection process, developed with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, to find, recognize, and reward outstanding local non-governmental organizations working to improve the lives of underserved children and their communities globally.
As part of the award package, each organization received US$50,000 of flexible funding and capacity building support.
“For 10 years the Stars Impact Awards have identified and awarded outstanding locally-led organizations that are making an impact on the lives of children,” said Muna Wehbe, CEO of Stars Foundation. “These organizations are beacons of effective practice and know best when it comes to spending their award funding.”
Khaled Quzmar, general director of DCIP, delivered an acceptance speech on behalf of all the winning organizations.
“I’ve only just met many of the people on stage with me, but I can tell you that each of us was driven to our work because we genuinely believe that together we have the power to create a safer and more just world for our children,” Quzmar said. “The support of the Stars Foundation will be critical for each of us, helping us further our work and continue to walk uphill together.”
Over three generations of Palestinian children have grown up under the shadow of Israel’s brutal military occupation. Children are routinely exposed to violence, including injury from gunfire, torture, and individual attacks. More than 2,000 children have been killed as a result of the conflict since 2000, according to data collected by DCIP.
Since 2007, children in the Gaza Strip have suffered from a suffocating blockade and regular deadly military operations. In the West Bank, children live under the constant and increasing threat of military incursions, home demolitions, and settler violence. Between 2013 and 2016, DCIP documented 112 settler attacks that targeted Palestinian children, including two fatalities. Last year, 2016, proved to be the most deadly for Palestinian children living in the West Bank in a decade.
Annually, around 500-700 Palestinian children are arrested and prosecuted in Israeli military courts, which treat them as perpetrators rather than victims and follow punitive rather rehabilitative measures. Most children are charged with throwing stones. Three out of four children report experiencing violence during arrest and interrogation.
Violations of children’s rights also occur under Palestinian jurisdiction. In particular, children in conflict with the law report abuse during arrest, interrogation, and pre-trial detention. In recent years, however, the Palestinian Authority has taken significant steps to advance legal protections for children. In 2016, the Juvenile Protection Law came into effect, with a focus on preventive measures and alternatives to incarceration. DCIP helped draft and is now monitoring the implementation of the law.
The organization’s Protection and Community Mobilization program helps communities create a safe environment for children. Protection teams monitor and document child rights violations, lobby on behalf of children, and empower children to become self-advocates.
DCIP’s Child Justice Unit monitors the implementation of legislation, policies and practices. It also provides legal representation for children in Palestinian courts and supports child victims of violence.
DCIP aims to create a safe environment for Palestinian children through data collection that is used for advocacy and lobbying. Over the last 25 years, it has become the primary source of data on Palestinian children’s rights for international agencies, successfully using monitoring and advocacy to pressure local, regional, and international decision makers and mobilize organizations to improve laws and policies related to children and juvenile justice.