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ECHO program helps rehabilitate former child prisoners

March 30, 2010 3:31 P.M. (Updated: March 30, 2010 10:42 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - Since its launch almost one year ago, an EU commission child rehabilitation program has offered its intervention services to almost 500 ex-detainee children under the age of 18, and 291 parents.

Save the Children Sweden with funding from the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) and in partnership with YMCA have held an event at the premises of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society in Ramallah marking the completion of phase I of the Post-trauma Rehabilitation of Palestinian Ex-detainee Children program, a statement read.

The program was launched almost one year ago in eleven districts of the West Bank; the second phase is due to commence in early April 2010.

"It's been quite a full year for the Post-trauma Rehabilitation Program!" said Eyad Al-Araj, country director of Save the Children Sweden.

"We at Save the Children believe in a world that is free of violence against children, where children have hope and opportunity, and we are working to achieve this vision for Palestinian child ex-detainees through this program," he added.

Herve Caiveau, head of ECHO office in Jerusalem said: "The project aims at rehabilitating and re-integrating young child ex-detainees into their families and their society through individual and group counselling as well as career guidance. Additionally, project activities are directed towards mitigating stigmatisation and marginalisation of this target group."

The program provides individual and group counseling sessions to ex-detainee children and their families. Beneficiaries of the programme also obtain vocational and academic guiding sessions, and are engaged in structured ventilation activities, where they get to interact with each other and release some of the stress and anxiety caused by their detention experience in a stimulating and safe environment.

The event also featured the launch of a short documentary entitled Coming Home, produced as part of the program to shed light on the challenges facing Palestinian ex-detainee children after their release from prison and to introduce the intervention tools available through the Post-trauma Rehabilitation Program. The event was preceded by a photo exhibition encompassing a selection of 25 photos captured by ex-detainee children and young adults. The photos reflect the impressions, feelings, and thoughts of the ex-detainees in relation to their post-release reality.
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