Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism – Gaza is by far the most dangerous place in the world to be a child and deaths of youngsters from disease will likely surpass those from bombardment in the absence of a ceasefire, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned.
A lack of food, water, shelter and sanitation continues to put children’s lives at risk as they suffer under relentless airstrikes with no safe place to go, said UNICEF spokesperson James Elder, who recently returned from the enclave.
Ahead of a UN Security Council meeting expected to call for a pause in fighting to facilitate aid access, he told journalists in Geneva that “every single child is enduring these 10 weeks of hell and not one of them can escape”.
“As a parent of a critically sick child told me, ‘Our situation is pure misery…I don’t know if we will make it through this,’” he said.
According to the Gaza health authorities, over 19,400 Palestinians have been killed in the enclave since the start of Israel’s retaliation for Hamas’ deadly terror attacks on 7 October, about 70 per cent of them women and children.
Over 52,000 Palestinians have been injured and their access to life-saving care is extremely limited. UN health agency WHO said on Tuesday that only eight of the 36 hospitals in the Strip are at least partially functional.
The UNICEF spokesperson explained that the “safe zones” were “anything but safe” because they had been designated unilaterally by Israel alone and lacked “sufficient resources for survival”: food, water, medicine, protection.
“An immediate and long-lasting humanitarian ceasefire is the only way to end the killing and injuring of children, and child deaths from disease, and enable the urgent delivery of desperately needed life-saving aid,” Mr. Elder said.