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United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
17 December 2007
UNICEF Humanitarian Action Update: OPT 17 Dec 2007
UNICEF IS RESPONDING TO THE URGENT NEEDS OF CHILDREN AND WOMEN
- Health officials warn of an impending crisis in 2008, with a gap of $42 million in drugs and consumables.
- Military operations, curfews, strikes, lack of educational material and classrooms hamper education of children.
- This year, more children have died in internal violence than in the last two years.
Gaza's border crossings have been closed for half a year except for urgent medical cases. Since 28 October, fuel supplies to Gaza have also been reduced: diesel (used for ambulances and service vehicles) by 47 per cent and industrial gasoline (used by the Gaza Power Plant) by 9 per cent.
Across the West Bank, military incursions, barrier construction and the closure system continue to choke the local economy and livelihoods. In November, only 25% of essential drugs were available, and the majority of diagnostic and x-ray equipment were no longer functioning at Ministry of Health facilities. Materials to build and repair water and sanitation systems remain blocked outside Gaza. Schools were running out of paper. Localized shortages were reported for wheat grain, dairy products and powdered milk, and food prices have increased since June: wheat flour by 46%, bananas by 43%, and yogurt by 20%.
Worsening socio-economic conditions in Gaza seem to be causing increased levels of violence against women. According to surveys in Gaza, two in five women reported being victims of violence in 2007, up from one in five in 2006. There were 12 so-called "honor killings" this year, up from four in 2004.
UNICEF's programmes focus on health and nutrition, education, water and sanitation, child protection and adolescent development, targeting communities where the needs are greatest. This support is needed more than ever to help prevent a further deterioration in children's well-being.
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