13rd January 2009 Posted in: Emergencies
13 January 2009. -- As the UN calls for a halt to fighting in Gaza, it is children who continue to bear the brunt of the conflict.
Since fighting began in late December, more than 900 people have been killed and about 4,000 wounded in Gaza and Israel. Most of the casualties have been in Gaza with about a third being children.
UNICEF has called for every effort to be made by all concerned to ensure that children are protected, and that safe spaces and unimpeded humanitarian access be established in Gaza. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon – on the eve of his visit to the region – is calling on Israel and Hamas to immediately stop fighting.
The nearly 1.5m residents of Gaza are experiencing what the UN describes as a “severe humanitarian crisis”. Basic infrastructure such as water, power and sanitation is failing and the continuing insecurity is limiting access to maintenance staff. For example, half a million people have no access to running water. The health system is in disarray and there is a lack of basic foodstuffs and medicines.
UNICEF is taking an active role in meeting the needs of children and families in areas such as medical supplies, provision of fresh water, boosting hygiene and sanitation, and child protection.
UNICEF has made available 350 first aid kits for 3,500 people and 20 resuscitation kits suitable for up to 15 people each.
In the past few days alone UNICEF has provided almost 60,000 1.5 litre water bottles, along with water kits for 5,000 families of up to six people each. Further supplies such as hygiene kits and water purification tablets are en route from UNICEF offices in Syria and Iraq.
Child protection is another important area of UNICEF’s work. For example, UNICEF has produced 100,000 leaflets with simple messages designed to educate children about the risks of unexploded ordnance. The leaflets are being distributed with emergency supplies. Four radio stations in Gaza are providing parents with information about how to support and respond to their children’s fears and concerns. UNICEF is also supporting a phone help-line that gives one-to-one support.
How you can help
If you would like to support UNICEF’s aid work in Gaza, please contribute to our Emergency Fund.