UNICEF scaling up support and protection to children in Gaza amid fragile cease-fire
GAZA, 16 August 2014 – A pause in fighting has helped UNICEF bring life-saving assistance to children in Gaza, but a sustained peace is needed to reach hundreds of thousands more children who desperately need support to rebuild their lives.
“This conflict, coming on top of previous conflicts and deepening poverty, has had a devastating impact on children, who make up half the population of Gaza. Together with partners we are providing critical care and support, but the needs of children are immense and acute,” said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Yoka Brandt.
Brandt travelled to Gaza earlier this week together with Maria Calivis, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, and UNICEF Representative June Kunugi, to meet with 16 UNICEF Gaza Field Office staff members. They met with displaced and wounded children in Gaza, and also spoke with children in Sderot, southern Israel.
Brandt said the ceasefire had enabled UNICEF-supported technical teams to begin repairing critical infrastructure damaged by airstrikes and shelling, including water pipelines and sanitation systems. Up to 110,000 people had been provided with safe water and hygiene supplies, and hospitals and health facilities re-stocked with some medicine and supplies. Safe, child-friendly spaces have been set up in six shelters for the displaced, and around 6,000 children suffering from profound distress had received some psychological help.
“UNICEF, together with our partners, is committed to reaching as many children as we feasibly can with the support they need. And we can do this if humanitarian workers get the humanitarian space we need,” said Maria Calivis, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“In July alone over 4,500 children were born in Gaza. For the sake of these children, for the sake of all children, we urge all parties to the conflict to protect children from further harm, and find ways to achieve a lasting peace - a peace that protects childhood," Calivis said.
More than 450 children in Gaza have been killed in recent airstrikes and shelling. More than 2,900 children have been injured and more than 50,000 are homeless.
UNICEF is appealing for $13.7 million to reach children and their families in Gaza. So far less than a quarter of these funds have been received.
Note to editors:
UNICEF has been in Gaza since the early 1990s, working to support children and families with access to basic services including water, sanitation education, health and mine-awareness. UNICEF needs approximately $14 million to respond to the mounting humanitarian needs caused by this latest escalation. For more on UNICEF’s work in Gaza seehttp://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/oPt.html. Follow UNICEF State of Palestine on Twitter and Facebook
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