UN calls Gaza "a graveyard for thousands of children" amid Israeli bombardmenttext_fields
Gaza: The Gaza Strip has become a harrowing scene of suffering for thousands of children, according to the United Nations. As Israel continues its heavy bombardment of the region since October 7, a dire humanitarian crisis has emerged.
The Gaza health ministry, under the Hamas administration, has reported that over 8,500 people have lost their lives due to the strikes.
UNICEF, the UN children's agency, voiced grave concerns about the potential escalation in child casualties as a result of the ongoing bombings. UNICEF spokesperson James Elder stated, "Our gravest fears about the reported numbers of children killed becoming dozens, then hundreds, and ultimately thousands were realised in just a fortnight. The numbers are appalling; reportedly more than 3,450 children killed; staggeringly this rises significantly every day."
He went on to say, "Gaza has become a graveyard for thousands of children. It's a living hell for everyone else." He also highlighted the perilous situation regarding clean water availability, explaining that "Gaza's water production capacity is a mere five percent of its usual daily output. Child deaths - particularly infants - due to dehydration are a growing threat," reported AFP.
UNICEF has called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, urging the opening of all access points into Gaza for the safe, consistent, and unimpeded passage of humanitarian aid, including water, food, medical supplies, and fuel.
Without such access, James Elder warned of further tragedies, stating, "And if there is no ceasefire, no water, no medicine, and no release of abducted children? Then we hurtle towards even greater horrors afflicting innocent children. There are certainly children who are dying who have been impacted by the bombardment but should have had their lives saved."
He emphasised the importance of providing greater humanitarian access to Gaza and expressed concerns that the current child casualties might just be the tip of the iceberg.
According to reports from health facilities in Gaza, approximately 940 children are missing. Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the UN humanitarian agency, described the harrowing situation, saying, "It's almost unbearable to think about children buried under rubble, but [with] very little opportunity or possibility for getting them out."
The World Health Organization (WHO) also highlighted the urgent health crisis in Gaza.
Christian Lindmeier, a WHO spokesman, explained that people in Gaza were not only dying due to direct bombardment but also because of the deteriorating healthcare infrastructure. "We have 130 premature infants that are dependent on incubators... It's an imminent public health catastrophe that looms with the mass displacement, overcrowding, and the damage to water and sanitation infrastructure."
In the face of this unfolding crisis, international efforts for an immediate ceasefire and humanitarian assistance have been rejected by Israel.