Monday, March 4, 2024

UNICEF calls for truce as disease threatens to kill even more children in Gaza

UNICEF has announced that without sufficient safe water, food and sanitation, child deaths in the Gaza Strip due to disease could surpass those killed in Israel's bombardments, urging a ceasefire in the besieged enclave.

Israel’s war on Gaza has killed more than 7,700 children, according to the enclave’s health ministry.

“Without sufficient safe water, food and sanitation that only a humanitarian ceasefire can bring – child deaths due to disease could surpass those killed in bombardments,” UNICEF spokesperson James Elder wrote on X on the situation of children and families in the besieged enclave.

The United Nations children’s agency has recently slammed Israel’s complete blockade of the Gaza Strip, which is under a war since early October, calling it a death sentence for children in the coastal territory.

Adele Khodr, UNICEF’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa explained about the dire humanitarian situation across Gaza.

“Our team on the ground describes meeting children with missing limbs and third-degree burns, and children left shell-shocked by the continuing violence that surrounds them,” Khodr stated.

Reflecting on the impact of Israel’s total siege of Gaza on children, the UNICEF official said, “Close to one million children have been forcibly displaced from their homes, pushed into tiny, overcrowded areas without water, food, or protection, putting them at increased risk of respiratory infections and waterborne diseases.”

She described Israel’s restrictions on delivering lifesaving aid into the Gaza Strip as “another death sentence for children”, adding that the quantities of aid entering the blockaded territory “are far from adequate, and the challenges have been intensified due to ongoing Israeli bombing and fuel shortages.”

Khodr stressed that an immediate, long-lasting humanitarian ceasefire is the only solution to end the suffering of children and civilians in Gaza, affirming that it is crucial to protect civilians and enable the delivery of urgently needed lifesaving aid.

“Humanitarian aid must be allowed [to enter Gaza] at a scale to prevent further suffering. UNICEF and humanitarian organizations must have safe access to all children and their families wherever they are in the Gaza Strip, including in the north,” Khodr noted.

Stressing the need for the international community to take swift action on the situation in Gaza, the UNICEF official said, “The world is watching, helpless and devastated – we cannot act quickly enough. This must stop immediately.”

Israel launched its devastating war of genocide against Gaza on October 7 following a surprise operation by the territory’s resistance groups, dubbed Operation al-Aqsa Storm.

The Palestinian Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip announced on Tuesday that the regime’s onslaught has killed 19,667 people so far with 52,586 others injured.

At least 5,000 wounded need to be evacuated from the Gaza Strip, the official representative for the enclave’s Health Ministry Ashraf al-Qudra stated.

“We need to urgently evacuate 5,000 wounded,” the Al Jazeera TV channel quoted him as saying. Al-Qudra said the situation in shelters for displaced people is “catastrophic due to the spread of diseases and lack of medical care”. He reiterated his call for international organizations to provide medicine and fuel to keep the hospitals running.

The UN agency that caters to the needs of Palestinian refugees announced that more than 60 percent of the infrastructure in Gaza has been destroyed or damaged.

UNRWA also said that more than 90 percent of the population in Gaza have been displaced.

“This is a staggering and unprecedented level of destruction and forced displacement, taking place in front of our eyes,” it added.

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