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Children disproportionately wearing the scars of the war in Gaza - Geneva Palais briefing note

Children disproportionately wearing the scars of the war in Gaza - Geneva Palais briefing note

This is a summary of what was said by UNICEF Communication Specialist Tess Ingram – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at yesterday’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva

GENEVA, 16 April 2024 – I left Gaza yesterday after spending two-weeks there. It was my second mission into Gaza this year.

By far, what struck me most about this mission was the number of wounded children.

Not just in the hospitals, but on the streets. In their makeshift shelters. Going about their now permanently-altered lives.

Over the last six months, a staggering number of children have been wounded amid intense and often indiscriminate attacks, their lives forever changed by the horrors of war.

The total number of injured children in this conflict is quite difficult to gather, but the most recent data from the Palestinian Ministry of Health documents more than 12,000 children – or almost 70 children every day – injured in Gaza since the current conflict began.

This is almost certainly an underestimate because only a small number of all reported injuries are disaggregated to specify when it is a child that has been injured.

These children have become the faces of the ongoing war. From devastating injuries sustained in airstrikes, to the trauma of being caught in violent clashes, their stories paint a harrowing picture of the human consequences of conflict.

Imagine being strip searched, left naked and questioned for hours. Told that you are safe and you can leave, you quickly walk away down the street, praying. But then, you are shot at. Your father is killed and a bullet penetrates your naked pelvis causing serious internal and external injuries that will require reconstructive surgery.

At a field hospital in Khan Younis, Yousef told me this happened to him. He is 14.

In the last two weeks I also met a 9-year old girl with major open wounds from a blast.

A 16-year old girl, orphaned and recovering from a broken leg.

A 13-year boy still recovering three months after a difficult arm amputation without anaesthetic.

And a 10-year old boy in intensive care after being shot in the head while buying herbs – he died the next day.

That’s just five children of those injured in the past six months. I met so many others and there are thousands of similar stories, likely far exceeding 12,000.

The thousands of injured children in Gaza reflect two things:

(1) the nature of this war – volatile, often affecting civilians, including children, and costing tens of thousands of them their lives; and (2) its disproportionate impact on children – every second person in Gaza is a child.

Children are wearing a tremendous share of the scars of this war.

The thousands of injured in Gaza struggle to receive the medical care they need. The medical directors of some of the 11 partially functioning hospitals that remain told me that the lack of staff and supplies – needles, stitches, anaesthetic – is negatively impacting the care they can provide, especially for surgeries. And so injured children often languish in pain.

Medivacs are difficult to get – less than half of the patients who submitted requests for medical evacuation have been approved, according to WHO. Only about 3,500 people, mostly children, have been medically evacuated abroad. That’s less than 20 a day.

Urgent medical cases in Gaza must be able to safely access critical health services or be allowed to leave. Sick and injured children who are evacuated must be accompanied by family members.

With at least 70 children injured every day, we need the number of medical evacuations to increase so children can access the care they urgently need.

And with one child killed or injured every ten minutes, above anything else, we need a ceasefire. It is the only way to stop the killing and maiming of children.

Their shattered bodies and fractured lives are a testament to the brutality being forced upon them.

From his hospital bed in Khan Younis, Yousef asked me to relay this, “Stop the war, it’s enough. We are children; what is our fault? I took this shot; what is my fault for suffering like this?”


UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

The UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) raises funds for UNICEF’s emergency and development work for children. We also promote and protect children’s rights in the UK and internationally. We are a UK charity, entirely funded by supporters.

United Kingdom Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK), Registered Charity No. 1072612 (England & Wales), SC043677 (Scotland).

For more information visit unicef.org.uk. Follow UNICEF UK on TwitterLinkedInFacebook and YouTube.

Original article link: https://www.unicef.org.uk/press-releases/children-disproportionately-wearing-the-scars-of-the-war-in-gaza-geneva-palais-briefing-note/

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