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‘Horrible Reality’ For Gaza Children

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4 February 2024, Herald-Sun

Geneva: The UN estimates at least 17,000 children in the Gaza Strip have been left unaccompanied or separated nearly four months into the war.

“Each one has a heartbreaking story of loss and grief,” said Jonathan Crickx, spokesman for the UN children’s agency Unicef in the Palestinian territories.

“This figure corresponds to 1 per cent of the overall displaced population – 1.7 million people,” he said. Each one “is a child who is coming to terms with a horrible new reality”.

Crickx said tracing who the children were was extremely difficult, as sometimes they were brought to hospital wounded or in shock, and “can’t even say their names”.

He said that during conflicts, it was common for extended families to take care of children who lost their parents. However, in Gaza, “due to the sheer lack of food, water or shelter, extended families are themselves distressed and face challenges to immediately take care of another child as they themselves are struggling to cater for their own children and family”.

Unicef terms separated children as those without their parents, while unaccompanied children are those who are separated and also without other relatives.

He said the mental health of children in Gaza was severely affected by the war.

“They present symptoms like extremely high levels of persistent anxiety, loss of appetite, they can’t sleep, they have emotional outbursts or panic every time they hear the bombings,” he said.

Before the conflict erupted, Unicef estimated more than 500,000 children in the Gaza Strip needed mental health and psycho-social support. Now it says “almost all children are in need” of such help – more than one million of them.

The war in Gaza was triggered by Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel, which resulted in the deaths of about 1160 people. Israel then launched a relentless military offensive that has killed at least 27,131 people in Gaza.

“Children don’t have anything to do with this conflict yet they are suffering like no child should ever suffer,” Crickx said.

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Article source: Herald-Sun | 4 February 2024

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000