Children are always the first to suffer in any conflict – and the stories continuing to come from Gaza are the stuff of nightmares. If we don't act now, history will judge us all.
No child in Gaza is safe at the moment. Over 14,800 people have been killed in Gaza, including about 6,150 children. That surpasses the annual number of children killed across the world's conflict zones since 2019. With the death toll climbing, a humanitarian catastrophe has unfolded, and children are at risk and terrified. Children have been killed and injured in every major escalation, but the number of children has never been this high.
The children who survive will suffer from serious longer term mental health impacts – they've never emerged unscathed.
The killing and maiming of children, along with attacks on schools and hospitals, is a grave violation, and those responsible should be held to account for their actions.
The release of several hostages and the temporary pause in fighting are a welcome first step, but all children held must be freed - the child hostages in Gaza but also the hundreds of Palestinian children who remain in Israeli military detention.
This humanitarian pause will provide a short respite from relentless bombing for children in Gaza, but they still remain at grave risk as they lack the necessities such as food, water and medical care to survive.
The right to safety and assistance must be fulfilled for all children. With limited aid able to reach them, children are facing a humanitarian catastrophe.
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The situation is evolving fast and the violence continues. Our teams have been working around the clock to preposition vital supplies - such as drinking water, hygiene products, food parcels and blankets - to meet the needs of impacted children.
The temporary pause in fighting has allowed much-needed supplies to enter Gaza.Our teams continue to source supplies,including items needed for families forced from their homes to manage wet weather and the coming winter, mattresses, thermal blankets, food. Our partners inside Gaza continue to distribute food parcels, water, hygiene products and recreational kits to families, supporting children's emotional wellbeing and helping families to stay as healthy as possible.
We have also started delivering cash to families, to support them to buy the essentials they need. We also have a local partner planning to set up help desks to raise awareness of how to respond to unaccompanied and separated children.
We will continue to respond in this way for as long as supplies and circumstances allow. But it is a drop in the ocean. Immediate, unfettered and sustained access is urgently needed to enable the necessary full-scale response to critical and rising needs faced by children and families. Time is costing lives.
As soon as access is possible and fuel is available, our teams are ready to scale up our response further in Gaza through:
We are also responding in Egypt to support children and families being evacuated from Gaza for medical treatment.
We are calling for a definitive ceasefire now by all parties in the conflict.
We are there for children.
Your support is urgently needed for these children and their families.
Photo: Mohammed Zaanoun / Middle East Images / Middle East Images via AFP.