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Initiative from the past – no longer active

To ensure a comprehensive approach in the protection of the rights of children more directly exposed to the armed conflict, in 2002 UNICEF re-started the Child-Friendly Cities initiative. Within the framework of strengthening the capacities of local level partnerships, including municipalities, NGO’s and local authorities, the Child-Friendly Cities initiative is now underway in four locations – two locations in the Gaza Strip (Rafah and Gaza City) and 2 locations in the West Bank (Jenin and Jericho).
In each city, a dual-approach to planning has been adopted to identify and respond to current emergency needs whilst encouraging more coordinated and comprehensive planning and protection strategies for children. Due to escalating levels of violence and conflict, key strategies of this project include providing safe play areas for children and increasing children’s participation in non-violent activities.

Achievements include:

– Participatory needs assessments and workshops involving children have been conducted to identify immediate and longer-term priorities for children. Results have been accumulated into a City Plan of Action for Children in each location and endorsed by local decision makers and a range of participating institutions. A steering committee has been established in each location to monitor the communities efforts towards achieving the child-friendly goals established. UNICEF support has focussed on immediate priorities identified in each action plan.
– Safe Play Areas have been developed to target children in the most exposed areas of Rafah, Gaza and Jenin. Play areas are designed to limit children’s exposure to the violence and increase their opportunities to play and participate in non-violent activities. Teams of facilitators have been trained in each location to design and conduct weekly extra-curricular activities.
– Children’s Municipality Councils have been established in each participating city whereby children are trained as leaders in their communities, design and implement small projects to reach larger numbers of children and play an active role in influencing change in their communities.
– Activities to reach large numbers of children are currently being implemented in each city including fun days, sports competitions, community campaigns on key issues of concern for children.

The Child-Friendly Cities initiative has proven highly instrumental in facilitating action at the ground level. A local level commitment towards achieving and protecting children’s rights has been achieved and a common vision on how to do this developed. Furthermore, children have opportunities to participate in decisions affecting their lives and are actively identifying and conducting community work to develop their cities.

Contact
Carlos Mazuera
UNICEF Jerusalem
P.O. Box 25141
E-mail: Jerusalem@unicef.org