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‘6 yr olds have seen 3 wars’: Gaza

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Relief group Save the Children has called for an immediate ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Hamas, so that aid and support can be provided to Gaza’s youth affected by the nearly four week long conflict. Much of Save the Children’s focus in the region has been addressing the psychological impact of the conflict on the children of Gaza.

In recent days, the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) have begun launching airstrikes at hospitals, shelters, as well as Gaza’s main power plant, which provides 50% of the regions electricity. There has also been an alarming increase in civilian displacements, with more than 176 000 people current sitting in makeshift shelters, and thousands more forced to live on the streets.

Save the Children’s communications manager, Osama Damo noted the shockingly high rate of child fatalities as a result of the conflict, with one child casualty amongst every four Gazans killed. With the current death toll standing at well over 1200, Damo said this amounted to nearly one child fatality every hour. He described the situation as extremely difficult from a humanitarian perspective.

Reiterating the fact that Gaza was one of the most densely populated places on earth, Damo said any use of explosive weapons in the region would certainly result in the loss of innocent civilian life. This was evident by the fact that more than 70% of those killed in Gaza were civilians.

“It was very hard for us to see entire families being wiped out in a single airstrike targeting their homes. It is very hard for us as humanitarian workers to see years of work in Gaza, being undone by one airstrike,” he said.

Due to the nature of the conflict, and the instability of temporary truces that have been implemented over the course of the four weeks, Damo said it was extremely difficult for a group such as Save the Children to facilitate relief efforts in the region. Without a proper ceasefire agreement, they would not be able to freely move around and provide the much assistance to the children.

With Gaza’s children over the age of six now having witnessed their third military offensive, he was concerned that this would likely leave a long lasting psychological impact on their mental health.

“No child or human being should be subject to what people are seeing these days in Gaza. We do believe the children here are paying the highest price,” he said.

Damo said the people of Gaza were calling on the international community to pressure all the respective parties involved in the conflict, to re-establish a ceasefire immediately, as well as end the Gaza blockade.

“The people and children of Gaza deserve a better future and to live in peace and prosperity,” he said. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)


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