Since the start of the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip on 8 October, more than 4,600 children have reportedly been killed, and nearly 9,000 have been injured.
Speaking after a visit to Gaza on Wednesday, 15 November, the Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund – UNICEF – said the situation for one million children in the besieged Gaza Strip is devastating.
Catherine Russell, who met with children, their families and UNICEF staff, described the trauma of the children who, she said, have “endured repeated bombardment, loss and displacement.”
She said the UN agency condemns the grave violations against children committed by the parties to the conflict, violations that include killing, maiming, abductions, attacks on schools and hospitals, and the denial of humanitarian access.
“Many children,” Russell continued, “are missing and believed buried under the rubble of collapsed buildings and homes.”
Hospitals unable to function
Newborn babies, she added, who require specialized care have died in one of Gaza’s hospitals as power and medical supplies run out, and violence continues with indiscriminate effect.
At Al Naser Neonatal Hospital in Khan Yunis, Russell said, “Tiny babies were clinging to life in incubators, as doctors worried how they could keep the machines running without fuel.
The UNICEF director also highlighted the risks for humanitarian workers and said aid agencies are doing all they can to bring in desperately needed supplies, but “The intermittent opening of Gaza’s border crossings to shipments of humanitarian supplies is insufficient to meet the skyrocketing needs.”
Russel concluded with a call on all parties to ensure that children are protected and assisted, as per international humanitarian law.
She, also appealed for the implementation “of an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, to safely release all abducted and detained children, and to ensure that humanitarian actors have safe, sustained and unimpeded access to reach those in need with the full range of lifesaving services and supplies.”