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Reflection on Israel and Gaza

Our Refugee Education UK community has been appalled and devastated by the events in Israel and Gaza over the last few weeks. The pain runs deep for our young people and our staff team, as well as our volunteers. Our CEO Catherine shares some reflections on her return from leave:

“I’ve been on annual leave this week… surrounded by beautiful scenery in a remote part of Wales, playing with my nieces, my young daughter. I let her stay up late last night… pretended to fall for all her usual seven-year old delaying tactics to get five extra minutes before lights out - answered the random questions, laughed at her jokes, stroked her head as she gradually closed her eyes.

And I was undone. Moved to tears by the utter privilege of the normality of it all. My heart and mind broken by the incomprehensible brutality and suffering in Gaza and Israel. 

After 20 years of working alongside refugee children and young people in 16 different countries, including briefly for UNRWA and in several Palestinian refugee camps, in Afghanistan, in Sudan, in South Sudan, in the DRC - and in more than a decade of leading REUK - I often think that a humble awareness of my own limited understanding is perhaps the most important thing. And yet some things remain clear - and become increasingly so. There are some things that we do know.

We know that the targeted killing of civilians and children is appalling. We grieve with and for the Palestinian and Israeli families experiencing devastating pain, loss and trauma.

We know that the people of Gaza are living through an unprecedented humanitarian crisis - and that humanitarian corridors are urgently needed.

We know that children’s lives are shattered when people are forced to flee their homes.

And we know that - as with many conflicts around the world - the possibility for refugees to find safety in the UK is now almost non-existent. There are no functioning safe and legal routes for those fleeing this conflict. At REUK, we called for safe and legal routes to protection when the Taliban took over Afghanistan, and when Russia invaded Ukraine - and we call for them again now. 

REUK is not working on the ground in Gaza or Israel. So we urge you to donate to those who are. Below you will find links to appeals run by Embrace Middle East; Save the Children and Medicins Sans Frontiers. 

As for me, I am praying. For an end to the killing. For a ceasefire. For peace. And my appalled heart is still refusing to let go of hope, the foundation from which we work.”

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