Humanitarian Crisis: UN Raises Alarm over Child Deaths Surge in Gaza
Humanitarian Crisis: UN Raises Alarm over Child Deaths Surge in Gaza

United Nations agencies have issued a stark warning regarding the escalating crisis facing children in Gaza, raising concerns about a potential surge in child fatalities. After twenty weeks of conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the UN cautioned that severe food shortages, escalating malnutrition, and widespread disease outbreaks could lead to a significant increase in child mortality.

The UN Children's Agency (UNICEF) deputy head of humanitarian action, Ted Chaiban, expressed grave concern, stating that the Gaza Strip is on the brink of experiencing a surge in preventable child deaths, exacerbating an already dire situation. A joint assessment by UN agencies revealed that almost all young children in Gaza are suffering from infectious illnesses due to the scarcity of food and safe drinking water.

The assessment highlighted alarming statistics, indicating that around 90% of children under the age of five in Gaza are affected by one or more infectious diseases. Additionally, a staggering 70% of children had experienced diarrhoea in the two weeks preceding the assessment, marking a significant increase compared to previous years.

Mike Ryan, the World Health Organization's emergencies director, emphasized the perilous combination of hunger and disease, stating that malnourished and traumatized children are more susceptible to illness. He described the situation as both dangerous and tragic, unfolding before the international community's eyes.

The conflict, which escalated with Hamas's attack on southern Israel on October 7th, has resulted in a high number of casualties on both sides. While approximately 1,160 people, mostly civilians, were reported dead in Israel, the death toll in Gaza, according to the territory's health ministry, exceeds 29,000, predominantly women and children.

The nutrition crisis in Gaza has worsened since the onset of the conflict, with limited access to external aid exacerbating the situation. The UN assessment revealed alarming rates of acute malnutrition among children under the age of two, particularly in northern Gaza, where one in six children is severely malnourished, and three percent suffer from life-threatening severe wasting.

In southern Gaza, five percent of children under two are acutely malnourished, underscoring the widespread impact of the crisis across the region. Prior to the conflict, less than one percent of children under five in Gaza were classified as acutely malnourished, highlighting the severity of the current situation.

The UN agencies warned that the situation is likely to have worsened since the data was collected in January, underscoring the urgent need for immediate action to address the escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

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