Jerusalem: young Israelis, Palestinians say no to drugs

Drugs: no thank you -  was the slogan of a special day recently organised by Caritas Jerusalem, involving and increasing awareness among young Israelis and Palestinians.

The campaign was run by the Old City Counselling Centre in east Jerusalem which hosted a Seminar for young people teachers, parents and associations on how to combat drug abuse in Jerusalem and the West Bank. The campaign followed the UN World Day against Drugs held on 26 June.

Participants were encouraged to play an active role, at home, at school, on the streets, in associations, in parishes, in the fight against the spread and abuse of drugs. “Life is beautiful without drugs”, former drug addicts and other youngsters told people in the streets.

According to Caritas, the phenomenon of drug abuse is spreading in the Holy Land and steps must be taken to stop it in both societies, Israeli and Palestinian. Centres of education, NGOs, the media have a duty to focus attention on young people and to foster greater awareness of the serious damage caused by drug consumption. Everyone must keep watch and participate in programmes of prevention and to warn others of the dangers connected with drug abuse.

The day closed with a theatrical performance 'There is still Hope', by local young people. The initiative was addressed to the hundreds of local drug addicts.

There are no reliable recent estimates regarding drug abuse in the Holy Land: the last surveys were undertaken in 2001. Families hesitate to admit that one of the members is a drug addict. However many NGOs realise that drug abuse is spreading in East Jerusalem involving growing numbers of young people. Palestinians under 18 amount to about 50% of the population and drugs become a means of weakening society and depriving it of prospects for the future and the desire for peace and freedom.

Source: Caritas Jerusalem

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