UNICEF Statement on the crisis in Gaza
Attributable to Ms. Sigrid Kaag, Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
AMMAN, 5 JANUARY 2009 – The humanitarian crisis caused by the current violence in Gaza is hitting children and women the 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 of 3 January 2009, 70 Palestinian children were killed and at least 650 injured, out of a tally of 550 deaths and 2800 injuries, according to data provided by the Palestinian Ministry of Health. UNOCHA estimates that 25 per cent of casualties in Gaza are civilians. Among the Israeli fatalities reported are four 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 deprived not only of the basic human rights any human being should enjoy but are also 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 and injury, and 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 and to allow humanitarian aid and relief efforts to be fully deployed.
UNICEF 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.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
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; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Charbel Raji, Regional Media and Communication Specialist, UNICEF Middle East & North Africa Region, Phone number: +962-6-5502474, Mobile: +962-79-7315788; Email: email@example.com