May 5, 2004
In October 2003, Urban Renaissance Institute criticized UNICEF for enlisting children in the aid of political activities, and broke the news that UNICEF was supporting Palestinian summer camps that encouraged children to become suicide bombers.
When parents in Canada and elsewhere began demanding explanations of UNICEF, UNICEF denied our findings, calling them “baseless and reckless.” In May 2004, however, it acknowledged that it had, indeed, been supporting summer camps that inspired suicide bombing, and pledged in future it would only promote camps that furthered recreation and an appreciation of the environment.
UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, will operate 50 summer camps in the West Bank and Gaza Strip this year for some 7,000 Palestinian children, devoting special supervision to keep politics and conflict out of the program, stressing instead environmental issues and recreation, Israel Radio reported Wednesday.
UNICEF West Bank, Gaza camps to steer clear of politics
In the past, the radio said, “UNICEF had discovered that two of its summer camps had been named after shahidim,” a term generally used by Israelis to denote suicide bombers.
The camps are operated in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Education.
“The whole idea of the summer camp is not only to help the kids continue with their education, but also to lead as normal and fun a life as kids elsewhere in the world do,” UNICEF official Michael Bociurkiw told the radio.
“A lot of these kids are traumatized and anxious, and we want to give them the experience of fun.”
The radio quoted UNICEF figures showing that nine of 10 Palestinian children showed symptoms of traumatic response to the violence of the last three years.
“What we concentrate on is to keep children out of the conflict,” Bociurkiw said. He said that could mean keeping them out of the direct line of fire, and away from exposure to military presence.
In addition, he said, “Kids also want to learn about things unrelated to the conflict, and protecting the environment is something that children all over the world should be aware of.”
Read Lawrence Solomon’s original article on this issue, “UNICEF’s ghoulish tricks”