Conflicts & War

UNICEF says Gaza world’s most dangerous place for children

Geneva, Dec 19 (EFE).- The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday said the Gaza Strip was the world’s “most dangerous place” for children, two days after an Israeli airstrike hit the enclave’s main hospital, killing many including patients, among them children.

“The Gaza Strip is the most dangerous place in the world to be a child. And day after day, that brutal reality is reinforced,” UNICEF spokesperson James Elder said during a press conference in Geneva.

“Over the past 48 hours, the largest remaining fully functioning hospital in Gaza was shelled, twice,” he added.

The Al Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis, south of Gaza, not only treats a significant number of children “badly injured” in attacks on their homes, but also provides shelter for hundreds of displaced women and children seeking safety from the conflict, according to Elder.

Sunday’s attack left an unspecified number of fatalities, among them 13-year-old Dina, who was undergoing treatment after having lost her right leg in a previous Israeli attack on her house in Khan Yunis

“I feel injustice; when I grow up, I will become a lawyer so that I can enjoy my rights and (ensure) the rights of all children,” Dina, who had lost her parents and two siblings in the attack on her house, told UNICEF a day before she died.

Like Dina, the other children of Gaza “are not safe in hospitals. They are not safe in shelters. And they are certainly not safe in the so-called ‘safe’ zones,” underlined the UN official.

Elder criticized that these supposed safe-zones designated by Israel were neither “safe nor humanitarian,” and were lacking essential conditions for sheltering displaced people.

“These zones are tiny patches of barren land, or street corners, or half-built buildings, with no water, no facilities, no shelter from the cold and the rain. And critically no sanitation,” he added.

Elder underscored that the poor sanitation and overcrowding had turned these so-called safe-zones into “zones of disease.”

“Diarrhea cases in children are above 100,000. Acute respiratory illness cases in civilians are above 150,000. With malnutrition soaring among Gaza’s children, diarrheal diseases are becoming deadly,” Elder noted.

Expressing concerns about the dire situation, he stressed that more than 130,000 of Gaza’s “most vulnerable children” under the age of two were not getting enough milk and food to survive.

“With such a scenario – and without sufficient safe water, food and sanitation that only a humanitarian ceasefire can bring – child deaths due to disease could surpass those killed in bombardments,” Elder said. EFE

abc/bks/sc

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