Almost 3,000 Children at Risk of Death in Gaza – UNICEF

Famine is overwhelming Gaza. (Photo: via UNRWA)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

“With hospitals destroyed, treatments stopped and supplies scant, we are poising for more child suffering and deaths.”

Almost 3,000 children have been cut off from treatment for moderate and severe acute malnutrition in southern Gaza, putting them at risk of death, the UN International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has warned.

“Horrific images continue to emerge from Gaza of children dying before their families’ eyes due to the continued lack of food, nutrition supplies, and the destruction of healthcare services,” said Adele Khor, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa in a statement on Tuesday.

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“Unless treatment can be quickly resumed for these 3,000 children, they are at immediate and serious risk of becoming critically ill, acquiring life-threatening complications, and joining the growing list of boys and girls who have been killed by this senseless, man-made deprivation.”

This number, based on reporting from UNICEF’s nutrition partners, equates to approximately three-quarters of the 3,800 children who were estimated to be receiving life-saving care in the south ahead of the escalating conflict in Rafah.

Rising Cases of Malnutrition

The agency said early results from recent malnutrition screenings in the middle and southern governorates of Gaza indicate that cases of moderate and severe malnutrition have risen since the second week of May.  This was when aid delivery and humanitarian access were significantly curtailed by the escalation of the Rafah offensive.

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“Our warnings of mounting child deaths from a preventable combination of malnutrition, dehydration and disease should have mobilized immediate action to save children’s lives, and yet, this devastation continues,” Khodr said. “With hospitals destroyed, treatments stopped and supplies scant, we are poising for more child suffering and deaths.”

The risk of rising cases of malnutrition comes at the same time as malnutrition treatment services are collapsing, the statement said.

“Today, only two of the Gaza Strip’s three stabilisation centres that treat seriously malnourished children are functioning. Meanwhile, plans for the opening of new centres have been delayed due to ongoing military operations across the Strip.”

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Assurances Sought

The agency emphasized that treating a child for acute malnutrition typically takes six to eight weeks of uninterrupted care and requires special therapeutic food, safe water, and other medical support.

Malnourished children are at heightened risk of catching diseases and other health issues due to limited access to safe water, sewage overflow, infrastructure damage, and a lack of hygiene items.

“UNICEF has more nutrition supplies prepositioned to arrive in the Gaza Strip, if access allows,” said Khodr. “United Nations agencies are seeking assurances that humanitarian operations can safely collect and distribute aid to children and their families without interruption.”

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She added “We need better operating conditions on the ground, with more safety and less restrictions. But ultimately, it is a ceasefire that children need most.”

Water production in the Gaza Strip is now less than a quarter of what was produced prior to the intensification of hostilities in October, the statement noted.

Ongoing Genocide

Currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians, Israel has been waging a devastating war on Gaza since October 7.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 37,164 Palestinians have been killed, and 84,832 wounded. Moreover, at least 11,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip.

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli war has resulted in an acute famine, mostly in northern Gaza, resulting in the death of many Palestinians, mostly children.

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The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire’.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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