November 9, 2023

SPARK mourns the loss of partners in Gaza. Education institutions are not a target.

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SPARK continues to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza amid continued destruction of civilian lives and education organisations.

SPARK is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Mr. Tariq Thabet, Senior Programs Manager at UCAS Technology Incubator, with whom we have partnered for over three years. Mr. Thabet was killed when his residence was bombed, he died alongside 16 members of his family.

SPARK works with 10 partner organisations in Gaza within the education and entrepreneurship development ecosystem and has supported thousands of young Palestinians with higher education, skills development, job and entrepreneurship opportunities. We are extremely concerned about the safety of our partners, participants and staff, as well as the long-term impact of such destruction on the economic development of the region. 

During the first days of the conflict, we witnessed the destruction of one of our long-established partners, Education Above All Foundation’s Al Fakhoora House. Our partnership with Education Above All Foundation has brought scholarships, business skills training and employability coaching opportunities to many Gazan students, who had long considered the educational institute a beacon of hope. A further two prominent educational institutions, the Islamic University of Gaza and Al Azhar University, have been targeted by Israeli strikes multiple times, and are now completely destroyed. 

”Many schools, education institutions and livelihoods have been decimated by attacks over the past 30 days,” said SPARK’s CEO, Peter de Ruiter. “The international community has to work on a ceasefire immediately to save innocent civilian lives, especially children, and protect the education and economic development of future generations. Without an end to the fighting, we risk further loss of civilian life and foresee decades of trauma and reconstruction efforts in Gaza, where youth already bear the brunt of limited opportunities.”

To support youth, women and refugees in rebuilding their lives after conflict or disasters, SPARK was founded almost 30 years ago, when war was raging in southeastern Europe. We now echo the words of our Co-Founder, who asked himself then: “Less than two thousand kilometres away there is a war. What can we do to help?” As the people of Gaza now face devastating bombardment and a total siege that deprives them of shelter, medical care, water, fuel and electricity, with occasional telecommunications blackouts, SPARK continues to call for a ceasefire. An urgent cessation to this humanitarian catastrophe is needed and SPARK is ready to support the reconstruction efforts of education and entrepreneurship ecosystems, alongside our esteemed local and international partners, as soon as possible.

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