The prestigious Rafto Award 2023 goes to Defense for Children Palestine

Recognition for his “persistent commitment to defending and promoting the rights of children living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories”

Defense for Children Palestine was awarded the prestigious Rafto Prize 2023 for its “persistent commitment to defending and promoting the rights of children living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories”. The Award was presented yesterday evening at the National Theater in Bergen, Norway. This is an important and significant recognition, which came thanks to the work of Khaled Quzmar and his team of activists and volunteers who have been investigating and documenting the very serious violations of children’s human rights in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for over 30 years.

Over a month has passed since the start of the Israeli bombing of Gaza, in what has become to all intents and purposes an open-air prison for two million Palestinians, the vast majority of whom are children and minors. The numbers in the report provided daily by Defense for Children Palestine tell of a “desperate situation” in Gaza and its surroundings, with the toll from the Israeli aggression rising to almost 11,000 victims, including 4,500 children, around 3,000 women and over 27,000 injured by October 7th to today. “We ask international agencies and organizations, including the UN, and all countries, to investigate the situation and call for an immediate ceasefire to stop the systematic violations of children’s rights in the occupied Palestinian territories” commented Khaled Quzmar, receiving the prize. “We also call on both the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to respect and implement the rights of children enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international agreements. International action is needed to ascertain the responsibilities of all those who carried out the bombings towards civilians, especially children, and to criminally prosecute those who gave the orders at a political and military level”.

Quzmar then addressed all members of the international community, inviting them “to assume responsibility for implementing the specific resolutions that have so far been disregarded. The only ones that can determine a political solution to the Palestinian question in accordance with international legitimacy.”

Defense for Children Italia works closely with its Palestinian colleagues, to whom it feels the need to publicly express its closeness for the precious humanitarian work they are carrying out in the field and, at the same time, denounce the deafening silence experienced in our country , in the face of what the United Nations itself has defined as “serious violations” against Palestinian children.

“For a month now we have been witnessing what are considered very serious violations by the United Nations Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC)” declares Pippo Costella, director of Defense for Children Italy. “The killing, wounding and maiming of children, the attack on health and school facilities, the refusal to allow access to humanitarian aid are three types of violation that for years the international community has considered a real crime against children . We must do everything to stop this massacre.”