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UNICEF Statement on the Crisis in Gaza

AMMAN, 5 JANUARY 2009 – The humanitarian crisis due to the current violence in Gaza is hitting children and women most. Children form over half of Gaza’s population of nearly 1.5 million and are bearing the brunt of the conflict. Being the most vulnerable part of the population, children are the first to be psychologically distressed, the most in need of medical support and the most exposed to injuries among civilians in times of conflict.

As at 3 January 2009, the casualties had accounted for the death of 70 Palestinian children and the injury of at least 650 children, out of a tally of 550 deaths and 2800 injuries, according to data provided by the Palestinian Ministry of Health. UNOCHA estimates that 25% of casualties in Gaza are civilians. Among the Israeli fatalities reported are 4 civilians. Over 20 have been injured. A school has also been hit in Southern Israel.

Gaza has been facing an 18-month long blockade which has resulted in the destruction of livelihoods and a significant deterioration of infrastructure and basic services.

This is unacceptable.

The number of children in Gaza affected by the loss of a parent, damage to their home, displacement, lack of needed medical equipment and treatment and the interruption of their education is yet to be fully measured. But it is significant.

The children in Gaza are currently being deprived not only of the basic human rights any human being should enjoy but are also being denied the fundamental rights specific to children, to which the signatories of the Convention of the Right of the Child are duty bound. These include the right of children to be protected from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury, the right to education, development and access to healthcare services.

The intensity of the current violence renders impossible any action to relieve their plight.

UNICEF reiterates its call for an immediate end to the violence, to allow humanitarian aid and relief efforts to be fully deployed and urges all parties to the conflict to abide by International Humanitarian Law to ensure that children are protected and receive essential humanitarian supplies and support.

Children should never be the silent victims and unheard voices of a conflict. Their long suffering must end.
For more information please contact

Abdel-Rahman Ghandour
Regional Chief of Communication
UNICEF Middle East & North Africa Region
Telephone: +9626 550 2407
Mobile: +96279 700 4567

Charbel Raji
Regional Media and Communication Specialist
UNICEF Middle East & North Africa Region
Phone number: +962-6-5502474
Mobile: +962-79-7315788

Samir Badran
Communication Officer
Telephone: +9626-5502-430
Mobile: +96279-6926180

Hala Abu Khatwa
Communication Specialist
Phone number: +00202-25265083
Mobile: +002012-2198441




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