In a recent visit to the Gaza Strip, UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell witnessed the devastating effects of the ongoing conflict on children and families. The situation in the region remains dire, with repeated bombardment, loss, and displacement leaving nowhere safe for the approximately one million children in Gaza.
The parties involved in the conflict have been committing grave violations against children, including killing, maiming, abductions, attacks on schools and hospitals, and the denial of humanitarian access. These actions have been unequivocally condemned by UNICEF.
According to reports, more than 4,600 children have been killed in Gaza, with nearly 9,000 injured. The use of explosive weapons in populated areas has resulted in countless children being buried under the rubble of collapsed buildings and homes.
Hospitals in Gaza are facing severe challenges as power and medical supplies run low. This has led to the tragic deaths of newborn babies in need of specialized care.
The Al Naser hospital in Khan Yunis serves as a prime example of the dire situation. Patients and displaced families seeking shelter there are faced with immense uncertainty. One 16-year-old girl, who survived a bombing in her neighborhood, was told by doctors that she will never be able to walk again.
The lack of fuel has jeopardized the operation of medical machines, leaving tiny babies clinging to life in incubators. The risk of disease outbreaks looms large due to overcrowded shelters, inadequate water, and poor sanitation.
UNICEF staff members, who continue to work tirelessly amidst the danger and devastation, have also been personally affected by the conflict. Many have tragically lost family members or have been displaced multiple times.
The dire situation is further exacerbated by the dwindling supplies of humanitarian aid. Diesel fuel, critical for operating hospitals and health centers, has practically run out. The inability of desalination plants to produce drinking water and the hindered distribution of humanitarian supplies further exacerbate the crisis.
Gaza’s border crossings, which intermittently allow shipments of aid, are unable to meet the skyrocketing needs of the population. As winter approaches, the need for fuel becomes even more urgent, adding to the suffering of those affected.
Concluding her visit, Catherine Russell appealed to all parties involved in the conflict to prioritize the protection and assistance of children, in accordance with international humanitarian law. She called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, the safe release of all abducted and detained children, and unhindered access for humanitarian actors to provide life-saving services and supplies.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: How many children have been affected by the conflict in Gaza?
A: According to UNICEF reports, more than 4,600 children have been killed and nearly 9,000 injured in the Gaza Strip.
Q: How are hospitals and health centers in Gaza affected by the crisis?
A: The severe shortage of fuel has caused disruptions in the operation of medical machines, putting the lives of patients at risk. The lack of fuel also hampers the production of drinking water and the distribution of humanitarian supplies.
Q: What is UNICEF doing to alleviate the crisis?
A: UNICEF, along with its partners, is working tirelessly to provide humanitarian aid to those in need. However, the limited availability of resources poses significant challenges.
Q: What can be done to protect the children of Gaza?
A: UNICEF calls on all parties involved in the conflict to prioritize the protection and assistance of children in line with international humanitarian law. An immediate humanitarian ceasefire, the release of abducted and detained children, and unimpeded access for humanitarian actors are crucial steps towards mitigating the crisis.