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International News: UNICEF concerned intensifying conflict, malnutrition and disease in the Gaza Strip creates a deadly cycle that threatens over 1.1 million children

Posted: Friday, January 5, 2024. 3:14 pm CST.

By Zoila Palma Gonzalez: UNICEF continues to call for an immediate ceasefire as millions of children are affected by the conflict in Gaza.

The U.N. agency say that children in the Gaza Strip face a deadly triple threat to their lives, as cases of diseases rise, nutrition plummets and the escalation in hostilities approaches its fourteenth week.

Thousands of children have already died from the violence, while living conditions for children continue to rapidly deteriorate, with increasing cases of diarrhea and rising food poverty among children, raising the risk of mounting child deaths.

“Children in Gaza are caught in a nightmare that worsens with every passing day,” said Catherine Russell, UNICEF’s Executive Director.

“Children and families in the Gaza Strip continue to be killed and injured in the fighting, and their lives are increasingly at risk from preventable diseases and lack of food and water. All children and civilians must be protected from violence and have access to basic services and supplies,” Russell added.

According to U.N. data, cases of diarrhea in children under five years of age rose from 48,000 to 71,000 in just one week starting 17 December, equivalent to 3,200 new cases of diarrhea per day.

The significant increase in cases in such a short timeframe is a strong indication that child health in the Gaza Strip is fast deteriorating.

Before the escalation in hostilities, an average of 2,000 cases of diarrhea in children under five were recorded per month. This recent climb represents a staggering increase of about 2000 per cent.

In addition, UNICEF says that an increasing number of children are not getting their basic nutrition needs met.

About 90 per cent of children under two years of age are consuming two or fewer food groups, according to a UNICEF survey conducted on December 26.

“The deteriorating situation is raising concerns about acute malnutrition and mortality breaching famine thresholds. UNICEF is particularly worried about the nutrition of over 155,000 pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, as well as more than 135,000 children under two, given their specific nutrition needs and vulnerability,” UNICEF expressed.

UNICEF is calling for the resumption of commercial traffic so the shelves of shops can be restocked, and for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire to help save civilian lives and alleviate suffering.

“UNICEF works to provide the life-saving aid the children of Gaza so desperately need. But we urgently need better and safer access to save children’s lives,” said Russell. 

“The futures of thousands more children in Gaza hang in the balance. The world cannot stand by and watch. The violence and the suffering of children must stop,” Russell expressed.

 

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