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Gaza: Number of children killed higher than from four years of world conflict

Amid reports of fresh Israeli airstrikes in Gaza overnight into Wednesday, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) said that more children have been killed there in recent months than in four years of conflict worldwide. 

This war is a war on children. It is a war on their childhood and their future,” said UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini, who described as “staggering” the latest Gaza health authority data indicating that at least 12,300 youngsters have died in the enclave in the last four months, compared with 12,193 globally between 2019 and 2022.

Ceasefire call

Writing on X, formerly Twitter, late on Tuesday, the UNRWA chief reiterated repeated international calls for an immediate ceasefire in the enclave, where intense Israeli bombardment in response to Hamas-led terror attacks in Israel on 7 October has levelled entire neighbourhoods.

To date, more than 31,184 Palestinians have been killed and 72,889 injured, according to the local health authorities. As of 12 March, 247 Israeli soldiers have been killed in Gaza with 1,475 injured since the start of the ground operation, Israeli army data shows.

UNRWA staff killed and injured

On Wednesday the agency reported that at least one staffer had been killed and another 22 injured when Israeli Forces hit a food distribution centre in the eastern part of Rafah in the far south of the Strip.

“Today’s attack on one of the very few remaining UNRWA distribution centres in the Gaza Strip comes as food supplies are running out, hunger is widespread and, in some areas, turning into famine”, Mr. Lazzarini said.

“Every day, we share the coordinates of all our facilities across the Gaza Strip with parties to the conflict. The Israeli army received the coordinates including of this facility yesterday,” said the UNRWA chief

Since the war began five months ago, UNRWA has recorded an unprecedented number of violations against its staff and facilities. At least 165 UNRWA team members have been killed including while in the line of duty, with more than 150 facilities hit, among them many schools.

Children most vulnerable

The development came as UN humanitarians repeated dire warnings about the catastrophic situation in Gaza, where one in four is close to famine – at least 576,000 people. Some 25 individuals have now died from severe acute malnutrition and dehydration in northern Gaza according to UN aid coordination office, OCHA, 21 of them reportedly children.

Youngsters are among those least able to cope with hunger and disease, the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, has warned, with one million youngsters already uprooted from their homes by the war and some 17,000 unaccompanied or separated children – one per cent of the 1.7 million Gazans displaced.

Some relief for north Gaza 

UN-partnered efforts to help alleviate the desperate situation amid ongoing fighting and Israeli bombardment included a World Food Programme (WFP) aid convoy to Gaza City on Tuesday – the agency’s first successful mission to the north since 20 February.

“With people in northern Gaza on the brink of famine, we need daily deliveries to the north, as well as direct entry points,” WFP said in the latest UN update on the crisis.

Last week, 19 UN-partners reached a daily average of 200,000 people in Gaza with food assistance, including food parcels and hot meals, reported UN aid office, OCHA. “More than two-thirds of this number were in Rafah, with the rest in Deir al Balah, Khan Younis and other areas.”

Hospital aid

Meanwhile, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and partners reached two more hospitals in northern Gaza on Monday – Al Shifa and Al Helou – in addition to others reached at the weekend: Al-Ahil Arab Hospital and Al-Sahaba Hospital.

Food and 24,000 litres of fuel was delivered to Al Shifa, along with medical supplies for 42,000 patients, including medicines, anaesthetic drugs and surgical materials.

In a social media post on X, formerly Twitter, WHO’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that Al Shifa was only minimally functional and urgently needed specialized health workers. 

Needs remain dire at Al Helou hospital, Tedros added, with services limited across all departments, along with shortages of fuel, food, surgical equipment and medical staff.

Source: UN News


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