A Humanitarian Crisis in the Gaza Strip
Children's lives are at stake
“I do not know what happened to my house, probably destroyed with all my books and toys” says Ahmad, a 6 years-old boy from northern Gaza. With his family, he arrived to this UNRWA school turned into a shelter, as “it is the safest place they could be” he adds. Today, there is no safe place in the Gaza Strip.
Since the beginning of the current escalation of hostilities in the Gaza Strip, the number of internally displaced people has reached 1.4 million, with more than 550,000 seeking refuge in one of the 150 UNRWA schools that are serving as shelters in the central and southern areas of the Gaza Strip. The children and families are living in very crowded and dire conditions with little or no access to basic supplies.
Children and families have practically no access to water, food and medicines, and the whole Gaza Strip is living with very little or no electricity. With no alternative, families are sleeping in the corridors and classrooms of schools and other facilities provided by the UN for people seeking refuge. Thousands of people have left their homes to take refuge in one of these schools, even though they know there is no safe place in the Gaza Strip.
Sileen, a young girl, summed up the feelings of many as she sat in front of a classroom at Al-Shati School turned into a shelter. “I do not like it here, it is crowded, I just want to go home”.
The water scarcity situation is a grave concern. It is estimated that people the Gaza Strip have access to less than three litres of water per person per day to drink, cook and wash, far below the minimum emergency threshold of 15 litres per person per day.
The situation poses a significant health risk of epidemics and diseases in a densely populated area like the Gaza Strip. The 2.2 million people living in the Strip, nearly half of them are children, urgently need life-saving humanitarian aid and basic services.
“We do not have anything here, we suffer from insufficient water, clothes and food, we are trying to cook anything for our children, situation here is really bad and devastating,” said a resident at the shelter.
The delivery of aid is a matter of life or death for children in the Gaza Strip. Families continue to persist in facing an uncertain future, while looking for ways to support each other in these dire times.
UNICEF and its partners, remain dedicated to delivering as much humanitarian aid as possible to children and families on the ground in the Gaza Strip.
On 22 October, the Rafah crossing with Egypt opened for the second consecutive day, allowing the entry of 14 trucks carrying food, water and medical supplies. This is far from enough. The needs are immediate and immense in terms of water, food, medicine, fuel, and essential goods and services.
UNICEF calls on all parties to the conflict to take immediate and decisive steps to de-escalate the situation, and to ensure a sustained and unhindered access and safe delivery of life-saving supplies. The needs are immense and immediate.