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John Gatt Rutter from the European Union held the official opening of an autism department at Princess Basma Center, a Diakonia/NAD project supported by the EU. Photo: Arige Abu Ali

Department for children with autism opened in Jerusalem

On the 7th of November 2012, Diakonia's partner Princess Basma Jerusalem Center for Disabled Children, along with Diakonia and the European Union, inaugurated a department for children with autism in Jerusalem. The centre will be pivotal in increasing the possibility to treat, educate and rehabilitate autistic children in the region.

"Really needed in East Jerusalem"

Diakonia's partner Princess Basma Center for Disabled Children have for severals years worked in the region with providing services to autistic children. They see the opening of the department as pivotal.

"The Autism Department was really needed in East Jerusalem. There is a high rate of autism diagnosed in Jerusalem but no treatment or rehabilitation services was founded targeting Palestinian children living in Jerusalem. Autistic children need to be trained using the same language of them parents and now we are proud to be able to provided them with this service," says the management of the Princess Basma Center.

EU representative emphasizes the need of the department

The EU is one of the co-founders of the department, along with Diakonia. At the inauguration, the EU representative John Gatt Rutter spoke about the need for the department and praised the geographical area covered by it:

"This project is ambitious because (...) it does not only target the population of East Jerusalem, but also the one of the West Bank and aspiring to transfer expertise to the West Bank."

He pinpointed further the importance of treating children with disabilities with an equal and including approach. Disabled children must therefore "not be treated as (objects) of charity and prejudice but rather as people with rights, who are capable of claiming those rights and have access to the same opportunities."