Announcing The Winners Of The ICRC Award For Humanitarian Reporting 2020 “The impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of youth”
COVID-19 has changed lives all over the world. The Palestinian Territory is not an exception. In addition to the restrictions of movement on Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza, the pandemic has added to feelings of isolation among the population, much of whom have faced confinement for an uncertain period. Feelings of irritability and restlessness, feeling low and lethargic, lack of patience, low-stress tolerance, difficulty concentrating, and decreased motivation, are common, among youth.
First place: 700 USD, awarded to Yahia Al-Yaqoubi for his piece “From siege to Coronavirus restrictions: the pillars of society aging before their time”.
The article highlights the difficulties that young people face in their lives, including movement restrictions, widespread unemployment, and long-term closures because of COVID-19. The pandemic has scarred the young Omar, who lost mobility after being injured in the demonstrations along the border fence, and the young Ansam, who lost her mother in the war of summer 2014 and has ever been traumatized and afraid to go through the experience of loss again, now that her sister and aunt tested positive for Coronavirus.
Yahia Al-Yaqoubi quotes Ansam’s words, “I lost my mother and my home in the war of 2014. I recall staying in shelters for over a month. We never got over the experience. The great pain of loss has prevented us from interacting with others, and this is like what I’m experiencing now. I’m confined to the house, I do not go out. The fear worsened after my aunt and sister tested positive for the Coronavirus, it was transmitted to them by one of our relatives. Will I lose one of my family members? Will we ever break the curse of loss?!”.
Second place: 500 USD, awarded to Fadi Al-Hassani for his piece “Coronavirus and youth in Gaza: killing time and biting finger-nails”.
The article sheds light on the life of the young Omar, a graduate of financial and banking sciences from the Shati refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, who works as a day laborer for a low wage in a café and barely suffices the requirements of his family. Omar tried to migrate from Gaza and failed. With the pandemic, the authorities closed cafes and public places to limit the spread of the virus, and Omar, like thousands of others like him, could not bear the pressures of life on him and began to bite his nails.
Fadi Al-Hassani quotes Omar saying, "I have been constantly making trouble with my wife, screaming and causing problems over nothing, and I can no longer even stand the voice of my children. The idea of being a father while unable to ensure safety for the wife and children is detrimental."
Third place: 300 USD, awarded to Nabil Sununu for his piece “Psychological battles: confined youth vs. Coronavirus, who’s the winner?”.
The article tells stories of young people being treated at the European Gaza Hospital, the hospital designated by the Ministry of Health to treat people with Coronavirus; the psychological battles they fight daily to alter their already challenging lives, and their anxiety about stigma and unemployment. Nabil Sununu narrates the story of the therapist, Al-Nawajhah, who provides psychological support to patients in the hospital, and his efforts to alleviate their anxiety, and guilt in some cases. As psychotherapist Al-Nawajhah puts it, "the signs are similar among young people, mainly difficulties related to staying in closed places, knowing that naturally, they’d love to move around and go about their daily lives without restrictions. The imposed quarantine is not an easy matter, it is exceptional and unprecedented for them, not to mention their increased concern for their family members because most of them were in their homes at the time they received the news about being infected with the virus, leaving them with a feeling of remorse”.
The ICRC received 40 submissions from Palestinian journalists, both men, and women. A jury assessed the contributions based on the criteria established in the competition announcement. The jury consisted of Zeinab Ghosn, Deputy Head of the ICRC's Regional Communication Center; journalist Mohammad Daraghmeh from the West Bank; and journalist Fathi Sabah from the Gaza Strip.
The winning articles will be published on the ICRC’s platforms in Arabic in the coming days.