UPDATE IBBY Libraries in Gaza 19/7/2014
The two IBBY library areas that are border areas (Rafah and Beit Hanoun) have been heavily bombarded by Israeli military, thousands of Palestinians living there have been displaced. The two areas are now military zones after the Israeli land invasion. PBBY received this message from the librarian in Beit Hanoun, Abla Hassan, about the situation there before she was displaced two days ago.
The al-Ata’ community based centre that hosts the library has been targeted and very badly damaged. The children's court yard has been destroyed as well as books, computers, windows and walls. As to the children's homes who use the library, three houses have been completely destroyed and thirty houses partially destroyed. The number of children or their family members killed is not known yet.
No known news about the library in al-Shawka – Rafah. All families are displaced including the librarian Mahmoud who left two days ago and described the situation as ‘horrific tens of civilians killed and tens of houses destroyed no specific news about the situation of the children using the library and the library building.
Open Letter from IBBY Foundation President
IBBY Statement Regarding the Current Situation in Gaza
The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) was established shortly after the close of World War II. IBBY’s founder, Jella Lepman, believed that books could build bridges of understanding and peace between people. The children needed to know what all good readers know: you are not alone; others have experiences, feelings and needs just like you do, and there is a whole world out there you know nothing about. The children of Gaza are trapped in a life that revolves around hate and oppression.
Since 2008 IBBY (the International Board on Books for Young People) has been supporting two new children’s libraries in the Gaza Strip. One library is situated in the northern community of Beit Hanoun near the Israeli border. The other is in the south in the South in the town of Rafah, close to the border crossing with Egypt. The funding for the libraries came from the great American children’s author Katherine Paterson and her family foundation. The books selected by IBBY experts in the region took months to arrive. The librarians had to be trained long distance. People from the region could not visit Gaza and the residents of the Gaza Strip were forbidden by the Israelis to travel for their training.
But they did manage to open at last. And to re-open after the invasion of Gaza, even though some of the young users were killed.
Reports from our libraries were encouraging but no one from IBBY had actually ever had the chance to visit them. Finally in that hopeful but brief moment known as the Arab Spring there was an opening. In 2013 a small IBBY delegation travelled to the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing and finally crossed over into Gaza. IBBY's President, President of the IBBY
Foundation, the Executive Director, and the head of our Palestinian section took this exceptional opportunity of seeing those libraries with our own eyes. They exceeded our expectations.
We found Gaza a quite unexpected place. At that moment the tunnels were still operating. Qatar had provided construction materials to rebuild the smashed buildings and crippled infrastructure destroyed during the invasion. There was plenty of food on store shelves. It all seemed much better organized and less poverty-stricken than we had imagined.
But this first impression of peace and order quickly started to shred as we talked to the families and children who used the Rafah library. The older kids work in the fields after school to help to support their families. But the library loomed large in their lives. Whether after school or work children would walk often as far as a kilometre to get to the library. When they get there they have options.
Some choose to play football in a small enclosed yard that surrounds the library. Or they may go inside to read books, take turns on the sole computer, sing songs, write and illustrate stories, or just sit around chatting. When they are in the library they are safe. No one can come in and try to recruit them. They are free to choose their own books and write and say what they feel. Amazingly enough they reported that their favourite book was Cinderella! The children and their parents waited six hours for us to cross the border so that they could tell us how important this place had become for them. It was their sanctuary – the world outside the library simply wasn't safe.
The children in Beit Hanoun in the north were less easy-going, more nervous even though their parents told us that the kids were less agitated and restless when they came to the library. They told us a lot about how frightening it was to hear drones overhead because they all knew someone who had been killed in a supposedly “surgical, targeted” strike aimed only at militants. These kids had experienced the brunt of two invasions of Gaza. They claimed the second shorter invasion was worse because they knew what was in store for them. There are no bomb shelters in Gaza. Should one stay home when bombs started to fall or go out? They had friends and neighbours who died doing both.
Today these children’s worst fears have come true. The borders are closed tight again. Bombing has resumed. Rafah is being targeted. An invasion is possible. But the people living in Gaza cannot become refugees. They have nowhere to go. Nowhere to hide their children when they are being bombed. Even Syrians, terrible though their situation might be, can flee and seek refuge. Children and their families in Gaza are locked in while war is being made upon them. And as is always in true in a war, children are dying daily in disproportionate numbers.
Gaza residents are invisible. Anything, apparently, can be done to them with impunity. There is a stated policy justifying targeted killings, firing into houses, knowing that there will be “collateral damage”. Where else in the world is this considered acceptable? Does this not qualify as a crime against humanity?
IBBY’s libraries are now closed, who knows for how long. The children who relied on them as a safe space where they could read and write and play are forced to live in fear at home. A young man that we met on the bus as we were leaving Gaza was on his way to Egypt to meet his mother for the first time in 15 years. She had gone to visit relatives and never been allowed back leaving him with an indifferent father and a not very enthusiastic stepmother. He was unbearably excited at the idea of seeing his mother again, but terrified that an arbitrary Egyptian official wouldn’t let him in. He asked us why the Israelis hated him when he had never done anything to them. One wonders where he is right now.
With this brief, but first-hand impression of Gaza and its children, I hope that you will be moved enough to urge your heads of governments to listen to IBBY. 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This offensive by the government of Israel is abhorrent to all people, especially to the children of Palestine.
Ahmad Redza Ahmad Khariruddin, President of IBBY, Malaysia.
Patricia Aldana is the President of the IBBY Foundation, member of the Order of Canada.
Jehan Helou, President of IBBY Palestine
Liz Page, IBBY Executive Director, Switzerland
11 July 2014
Read the Arabic version here
Etisalat Award for Arabic Children's Literature 2014
Call for submissions to the Etisalat Award 2014.
Download the Award brochure here
SAVE THE DATE: BOLOGNA 2015 From Monday March 30 To Thursday April 2
IBBY Statutes translated into French
Now available in the website at > About IBBY > Membership > Statutes or in the Member's Site > Statutes
34th IBBY World Congress Bulletin
Read the NEW Congress Bulletin here
NEW European Newsletter April 2014!!
Read the latest news from the IBBY sections in Europe here
Register for the 34th IBBY World Congress NOW!
Register before June 2014 and get 5% off the full registration price.
Take advantage of the best rate for accommodation at the Venue Hotel.
The Congress will take place in Mexico City on 10-13 September 2014.
You can register thru the Congress website www.ibbycongress2014.org
IBBY Australia announces Ena Noël Award
Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil, Hardie Grant Egmont.
For press release click here
Winners Hans Christian Andersen Awards 2014
The Hans Christian Andersen Award Jury of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) has named:
Nahoko Uehashi from Japan winner of the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Author Award
Roger Mello from Brazil winner of the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Illustrator Award.
Click here for the press release
Winners IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Awards 2014
The winners of the IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Awards 2014 are The Children’s Book Bank Toronto, Canada nominated by IBBY Canada and PRAESA, South Africa nominated by IBBY Sweden.
Click here for the press release
USBBY News Blast! Spring 2014 Bridges is now available!
The Spring 2014 issue of Bridges, a USBBY publication is now available online.
Click here to view.
Toronto Public Library Welcomes IBBY
Thursday, 27 February 2014 is the day of the opening of the IBBY Collection of Books for Young People with Disabilities at the North York Central Library in Toronto, Canada.
Click here to download the media release.
IBBY Honour List 2014
IBBY is pleased to announce the titles nominated by the National Sections for the 2014 IBBY Honour List. The 2014 list is now complete and the selected books will be presented at the IBBY Congress in Mexico City, 10-13 September 2014.
IBBY Asia-Oceania Newsletter February 2014
Read the 6th IBBY Asia-Oceania newsletter here
Bookbird call for papers
Bookbird: A Journal of International Children’s Literature invites contributions for a special issue exploring the relationship between children’s fiction and post humanism and a special issue exploring global nonsense literature.
Call for papers here
IBBY Documentation Centre for Young People with Disabilities
The complete collection of the IBBY Documentation Centre for Young People with Disabilities has moved to Toronto, Canada.
Visit the collection at North York Central Library, or visit online at:
For more information go to: www.ibby.org/disabilities
Click here to meet the Hans Christian Andersen Award 2014 Jury
ICBD 2014 Imagine Nations through Story
View the ICBD 2014 message and poster.
Download Brochure and poster here
Film of the IBBY panel sessional at the 2013 Frankfurt Book Fair online
We are pleased to announce that the film of the IBBY panel session at the 2013 Frankfurt Book Fair is online. To view the film click here
IBBY Appeal for Syrian Children in Lebanon 2013
Please help us to help IBBY Lebanon bring relief to the children caught up in this latest disaster that has struck again at the very people who struggle throughout their normal lives. The proposed therapeutic programme using books, theatre, and other methods to help children understand their own feelings, express them and recognise those of others was administered to 5,000 children between the ages of 7-14, who were exposed to violence during the war and then the Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006. In both situations the results achieved with children proved successful and rewarding.
Learn more and donate
IBBY Documentation Centre Of Books for Disabled Young People
The new catalog Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities 2013 can be
ordered at the IBBY Secretariat.
New IBBY Honour List 2012
The Honour List 2012 was presented at the IBBY Congress in London on the 25th of August 2012. Catalogs can be ordered from the Secretariat.
Honour List 2012