UN urges authorities in Gaza to reconsider dissolution of youth group

By United Nations
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A senior United Nations official today encouraged the de facto authorities in Gaza to reconsider the decision to dissolve the non-governmental organization (NGO) Sharek Youth Forum.

Maxwell Gaylard, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, said the youth group was dissolved last week “while judicial proceedings were ongoing and in the absence of any conviction of the NGO or individual staff members for malfeasance.”

“I am concerned that the principles of rule of law and due process may not have been

followed”, Mr. Gaylard said in a statement.
“NGOs are a mirror of the strength of civil society and rally people behind important ideas in the realms of justice, freedom, and human rights. NGOs are agents of social change but can only play this role with organizational independence. Arbitrary actions and attempts at controlling their activities threaten the very nature of NGOs and their considerable contribution to civil society,” he said.

On its website Sharek Youth Forum describes itself as an independent Palestinian organization that seeks to contribute to the process of youth development by giving a voice to young people and being a platform to advocate and support youth issues.

According to local media, Gazan authorities closed the NGO, alleging “it did not obtain the necessary licenses from the Ministry of Interior in Gaza and, according to the investigations conducted by the Office of the Attorney General, the Forum violates order and public morals.”

“In Gaza as elsewhere in the world, the United Nations relies on NGOs as important partners to ensure the effectiveness and sustainability of humanitarian and development activities,” Mr. Gaylard said, adding that the Sharek Youth Forum has been an important partner of the UN on behalf of children and youth.