Immediate humanitarian access needed to stave off disaster for Gaza’s children

Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore

19 May 2021
alestinian boy sleeping on metal fence looking at the horizon , war on Gaza forced dozens of families from Beit Hanoun city to evacuate and leave their houses running from heavy shelling escaping into UNRWA shelter.
UNICEF/UN0463026/El Baba
Palestinian boy sleeping on metal fence looking at the horizon , war on Gaza forced dozens of families from Beit Hanoun city to evacuate and leave their houses running from heavy shelling escaping into UNRWA shelter. Gaza, 2021.

NEW YORK, 18 May 2021 “Gaza’s one million children are reeling from the mounting consequences of violent conflict with nowhere safe to turn. Lives have been lost, and families shattered.

“In Gaza, at least 60 children have been killed and another 444 have been injured in less than 10 days. Nearly 30,000 children have been displaced. An estimated 250,000 children need mental health and protection services. At least four health facilities and 40 schools have been damaged. Some 48 schools – most of them run by UNRWA – are being used as emergency shelters for families seeking refuge from the violence.

“The already weakened water and sanitation systems have been further compromised as a result of this latest escalation. Essential infrastructure – including groundwater wells and reservoirs, desalination and wastewater plants, water delivery networks and pumping stations – have sustained significant damage. We estimate that 325,000 people need emergency water and sanitation services, without which they are more likely to contract potentially deadly infectious diseases.

“Electricity output across Gaza has dropped by roughly 60 per cent, leaving hospitals increasingly dependent on generators for the provision of essential healthcare services. These generators require significant amounts of fuel to function. Any reduction in health care capacity could also jeopardize treatment for those with COVID-19. 

“UNICEF is calling for the immediate cessation of hostilities on humanitarian grounds to allow the entry of staff and essential supplies, including fuel, medical items, first-aid kits and COVID-19 vaccines. We are also calling for the establishment of humanitarian corridors so that we can deliver these supplies safely, so that families can reunite and access essential services, and so that the sick or wounded can be evacuated.

“Each and every day the conflict continues, children across the State of Palestine and Israel will suffer. These children need a ceasefire now, as well as a long-term political solution to the broader conflict. They deserve far better than this horrible cycle of violence and fear that has gone on for far too long.”

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Media contacts

Juliette Touma
Regional Chief of Communications
UNICEF Middle East and North Africa Regional Office
Tel: 00962798674628
Christopher Tidey
UNICEF New York
Tel: +1 917 340 3017

Multimedia content

Palestinian boy holding empty water bottles and asking where he could find clean drinking water.
Since the escalation in the Gaza Strip began on 10 May, 40 Palestinian children have been killed, with many more injured and displaced. Prior to this escalation, 1 in 3 children in the Gaza Strip required psychosocial support for conflict-related trauma. That number has now undoubtedly risen. Children must be protected.

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