'Gaza evacuees are in dire condition'

Report: Unemployment has doubled since disengagement, kids turning to drugs.

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July 10, 2007 13:27
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Most Gaza evacuees remain in dire straits two years after disengagement, according to a report published by a Knesset subcommittee on Tuesday. A majority still live in temporary housing and hundreds of families depend on welfare assistance, according to the report, which was presented to the Knesset State Control Committee. "We alerted the state in real time about the difficult condition of the evacuees and the hardships awaiting them," said State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss. "Unfortunately, our call was not heard." Lindenstrauss said that in the very near future, immediately after submitting his report on the home front during the Second Lebanon War, he would begin preparing follow-up reports on whether his recommendations given at the time of the pullout were implemented. The former Gush Katif and northern Gaza residents needed help regarding education, employment and housing, according to the report's authors, who suggested that the government offer additional assistance. Approximately half of the schoolchildren from evacuees' families have not returned to normal functioning, and about a third of them needed extensive help in studying, the Education Ministry said. Many of the children needed additional support and professional counseling, which could cost the educational system thousands of shekels, the ministry said. Junior- and high school pupils exhibit a decline in achievements and concentration span. School counselors in those grades also report an increase in abuse of controlled substances, decline in the development of social skills and rise in suicidal thoughts among students. The report also found that the number of unemployed in the Gaza periphery doubled after disengagement. On Sunday, former Gaza farmers plan to stage a protest in front in the Wohl Rose Garden near the Knesset, to demand that the government fully compensate them for what they lost. Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.


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