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Crisis in Gaza

Children should never be the silent victims and unheard voices of conflicts

Palestinians gather during a funeral of two girls -- Lama and Haya Hamdan, who were killed in Israeli air strikes, in northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun on Dec. 30, 2008. © UNICEF/oPt/Iyad El Baba
© UNICEF/oPt/Iyad El Baba
Palestinians gather during a funeral of two girls -- Lama and Haya Hamdan, who were killed in Israeli air strikes, in northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun on Dec. 30, 2008.

The humanitarian crisis due to the recent violence in Gaza is hitting children and women most. Children form over half of Gaza’s population of nearly 1.5 million and bore the brunt of the conflict.

As of 18 January, 410 Palestinian children have been killed and close to 1,860 have been injured in Gaza. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights reports that a number of children were killed or wounded while on their way to or back from schools.  

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. We know that over 800,000 children have been exposed to extraordinary levels of violence and insecurity over the past weeks, and they will need immediate and lasting assistance.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 4th Geneva Convention call on parties to a conflict to take all possible measures to ensure the protection and care of civilians, especially children and women. Children have rights and needs that must be protected irrespective of the political context. Signatories of the Convention of the Right of the Child are duty bound to protect the basic human dignity of all children including the fundamental rights specific to the CRC. 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.

UNICEF has six truckloads of emergency equipment, including 2,200 hygiene kits, waiting at the border and scheduled to cross into Gaza on 19 January. Aside from delivering life-saving supplies of food, water and medicines to protect children's physical health, UNICEF is also preparing to send in teams of counsellors and mental health experts, in order to help children deal with the violence they have witnessed in the past few weeks.

Children across Gaza and the West Bank need support more than ever before. UNICEF is steadfast in our efforts to work against the needless death and suffering of children and women – irrespective of the political context they are living in. We have an urgent job to do and we are completely committed to doing it.

Update: 19 January 2009


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5 January 2009:
Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan appeals for humanitarian aid and protection on behalf of children in Gaza.
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UNICEF Occupied Palestine Territory

Palestinian Casualty Update

Palestinian MoH
19 Jan 2009, 1400 GMT

Dead – 1,314  
 • Children: 412 (32%)
 • Women: 100 (8%)

Injured – 5,300
(since 27 December)
 • Children: 1,855 
 • Women: 795 (15%)

Source: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs


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