A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
As the Gaza fuel crisis rages on, children are experiencing prolonged periods of darkness at a time when they have to study for their exams. Oxfam partner Centre for Free Thought and Association (CFTA) based in Khan Younis has asked the children it works with to think about what they would like to show to the rest of the world when it came to the electricity situation. Most of the children expressed their concerns about the difficulties of studying by candle light.
“We told them to express themselves in any way they like about electricity,” Majeda Al Saqqa, the centre’s director, said. “We left them free to choose the way they would do this – some chose to portray the issue through photography, others through art and short stories, and others decided to stage a sort of campaign with slogans about the hardships brought by the crisis. They loved it.”
Nashwa Yaser Zakout, 15, from Khan Younis refugee camp photographed her brothers doing their homework by a kerosene lamp at home during one of the long power cuts now happening daily in Gaza (picture shown above).
Ahmed Waleid Tabash from Khan Younis refugee camp also photographed siblings doing their homework by candle light, while 11-year-old Nada wrote a short message detailing her fears.
“Where’s electricity? How am I supposed to do my homework?”
“Electricity goes out a lot, about 15 hours a day,” Nada wrote. “We are asking the electricity company director to reduce the blackouts. A fire started at home because of candles. I’m afraid to sleep in the dark. Once my mum started kneading bread at noon but the electricity went off till midnight so the dough was spoiled. And we have children who need electricity.”
Ghada Abu Namous, 11, was photographed holding her campaign poster: “How am I supposed to study for my exams without light?”
The CFTA center opens on weekdays for children from Khan Younis, offering them access to a library, computer labs, multimedia courses and film production projects. The children themselves choose the themes they want to focus on and do their own productions – with electricity being their latest priority.
The fuel crisis and ensuing shutdown of Gaza’s power plant have all but paralyzed the coastal enclave under blockade, forcing those who can afford it to run on generators. The head of Gaza’s federation of industries and the Palestinian businessmen’s association was reported as calling on the Gaza government to provide fuel for factories to avert an “impending catastrophe for local industry”.
Egypt has stepped in to deliver emergency fuel supplies through the Rafah terminal, although the problem is far from solved.