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On Tuesday 30 November, the government in Gaza forcibly closed Sharek’s offices and youth centres across Gaza. Sharek Youth Forum in Gaza is one of the few remaining independent Palestinian civil society organisations that is ready to speak out against the government. Only last year, a highly critical report, “Promise or Peril” was published on the status of youth in Palestine making clear the true feelings of youth towards the government in Gaza. The message is clear: youth work in Gaza is forbidden.
Sharek provides services to tens of thousands of children and young people each year. Sharek is independent from any political movement and does not discriminate on any basis. Sharek is a youth-led and volunteer focused organisation. Sharek’s only crime is striving for a better society. If this is now illegal in Gaza, what can the future hold for young Gazans? Palestinian youth in Gaza don’t get many chances and if another one is taken away, what can the future hold for Gazans?
I implore you to use whatever influence you can bring to bear to ensure that the decision to close Sharek by the government in Gaza is reversed and Sharek is allowed to operate unhindered and without the harassment it has suffered in the past year. Only a handful of independent Palestinian civil society organisations remain in Gaza. If this closure is ignored or goes un-noticed, there will be no remaining independent civil society in Gaza.
Please use whatever pressure and influence you can to help us re-open Sharek and reverse the decision from the government in Gaza. Once again, we ask, what can the future hold for Gazans, more than half of whom are under 18, without independent organizations like Sharek to support them?