News & Highlights » News » 2014 » U.N. Reports Dire Impact on Children in Gaza Strip

U.N. Reports Dire Impact on Children in Gaza Strip

U.N. Reports Dire Impact on Children in Gaza Strip

07 August 2014 in 2014

GENEVA — As a 72-hour cease-fire took hold in the Gaza Strip, a United Nations official said Tuesday that Israel’s nearly monthlong offensive against Hamas, the militant Islamist organization that runs Gaza, had had a “catastrophic and tragic impact” on children in the territory and that reconstruction would require many hundreds of millions of dollars.

The conflict has killed 408 children and injured 2,502, Pernille Ironside, the head of the Unicef office in Gaza, said, briefing reporters in Geneva by telephone. About 373,000 children have had traumatic experiences and need psychosocial support, she said.

“There isn’t a single family in Gaza which hasn’t been touched by direct loss,” Ms. Ironside said. “The impact that has on the ability of children to cope cannot be overstated.”
Continue reading the main story
Related Coverage

Soldiers rested on Tuesday after Israel withdrew all of its forces from the Gaza Strip and a 72-hour cease-fire went into effect.
Israel Exits Gaza as Truce BeginsAUG. 5, 2014
Gaza War Strains Relations Between U.S. and IsraelAUG. 4, 2014
The body of a child in the morgue at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, six infants under age 1 were killed during Israeli military operations.
Civilian or Not? New Fight in Tallying the Dead From the Gaza ConflictAUG. 5, 2014

The weaponry used in the assault on Gaza caused amputations and maiming, she added. “This happened before the eyes of children,” she said. “They have seen their friends and their parents die.”

The United Nations and other humanitarian agencies are at the limit of their ability to cope with the fallout from the assault, which Ms. Ironside said had far surpassed the combined impact of two previous conflicts, in 2008-09 and in 2012. About 270,000 people have sought shelter at around 90 centers run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, and at least 200,000 others have taken refuge with family members, friends or neighbors.

The damage inflicted on Gaza’s power and water infrastructure has led to acute shortages of clean water for several weeks. What is available is used only for drinking and is not sufficient for basic hygiene, Ms. Ironside said, giving rise to scabies and other contagious diseases.

Shelling and bombing have damaged 142 schools — 89 of them run by the United Nations — , and multiple strikes on Gaza’s sole power plant and other infrastructure have left it beyond repair, Ms. Ironside said. The cost of reconstruction will run to “hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars,” she said.

But stringent Israeli controls on goods going into Gaza severely constrained past efforts at rebuilding, Ms. Ironside said. She urged an end to Israel’s blockade. “The international community cannot accept the rebuilding of Gaza on the same terms as before,” she said.

Share this page