IRIN April 1, 2009 - An estimated 1,346 children were left without one or more of their parents as a result of the recent 23-day Israeli assault on Gaza, according to Islamic Relief in Gaza.
An orphan is defined by Islamic Relief as a child under 18 who has lost the parent considered the head of the household, most often the father, according to a child welfare programme manager for Islamic Relief Mahmoud in Gaza, Abudraz. The official UNICEF definition of an orphan is a child who has lost one or both parents.
There are currently about 5,200 orphans under Islamic Relief’s definition in Gaza.
“There has been a dramatic increase in [the number of] requests for sponsorship [of such children] in Gaza,” Abudraz said.
Over 500 such requests have been made recently and Islamic Relief has responded positively to 200 of them. Eligible orphans must be under 14 and in the care of a low-income family (earning 1,000 shekels - US$240 - per month or less) with more than four members.
Extended families in Gaza cannot support the orphans in the long term, said Abudraz....