When 'toys' explode in Gaza

Source: International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) - Switzerland - Thu, 7 Jul 2016 16:45 PM
Author: International Committee of the Red Cross/Jesus Redondo Seranno - ICRC Media Relations and Spokesperson
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It was noon on May 6, 2015. Doaa Yasseen was on her way home from school when a strange object on the side of the road caught her attention. Curious to see what it was, she picked it up and started playing with it in front of her grandmother's house.

"I thought it was a toy before it exploded in my hand," the 11-year-old said in her home in Gaza City, where she picked up an unexploded remnant from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

  • After a few weeks, Doaa pictured here with her grandmother was fitted with a prosthesis. Smiling, she asked: “Could I use nail polish on it?”

  • Doaa attends support sessions with other children affected by unexploded remnants. “She helps me to wash the dishes and it is easier for her now to hold the tablet with the prosthesis. I hope that the support sessions with other children affected by unexploded remnants will help her to look ahead and have a bright future,” says Fadwa.

    Although it has been nearly two years since the last war in the Gaza strip, it is one of the areas in the world with the most number of explosive weapons in the ground. The consequences continue to haunt its population. Doaa is just one of many children in the area whose lives have been permanently altered by unexploded remnants.

    All the pictures by Jesus Serrano Redondo/ICRC

  • Doaa is one of 10 children in her family – six boys and four girls. The firstborn, Tamer, who found Doaa after the explosion, lives in the family home with his wife and two children. Alaa Yaseen, Doaa's father, is a 40-year-old construction worker, who lost his regular job due to the restrictions on the import of basic construction materials in the Gaza Strip.

  • “Doaa sometimes feels vulnerable and overwhelmed. She asks me why it happened to her and she hides in her room when we have visitors. The whole family is supporting her. We do not have much savings and our income is very low. But we bought her a tablet when she left the hospital. Her brothers understand that Doaa needs our attention,” says Fadwa, Doaa’s mother.

  • The doctor told her family if she was not transferred to hospital in Nablus, in the West Bank, the amputation would be more severe. There, Doaa underwent eight surgical operations. She was hospitalised for a total of 52 days.

  • Doaa first encountered the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) at her school during a session about unexploded remnants. They told her family that the Artificial Limbs and Polio Centre (ALPC) in Gaza City could get a prosthesis fitted for her.

  • The return to education has been difficult for Doaa. “When I came back to school I did not want to play with my classmates, but all of them have been very supportive and we keep playing together as we used to do,” says Doaa.

  • “Writing with my left hand has been one of the hardest things for me,” Doaa says. “Her performance has been affected by the psychological consequences of her injury. It is having an impact on her self-confidence; she covers her right hand with a white gauze most of the time when she is in the classroom,” says Noha, the principle of Doaa’s school.

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