Japan Committee for UNICEF
Gaza Strip: More than 17,000 children without parents or companions [Press release]
UNICEF appeals for interim protection measures
[Image 1: https://prtimes.jp/i/5176/2293/resize/d5176-2293-8c582a1480999aa1c6c6-0.jpg&s3=5176-2293-f99192065cc15242076d28498466f8f4-1536×1024.jpg] Razan, 11, lost his family in the conflict and had his left leg amputated as a result of the bombing of his neighbor’s house. (Gaza Strip, taken on January 8, 2024) (C) UNICEF_UNI501895_El Baba [February 2, 2024, Geneva]
Jonathan Cricks, communications chief for UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) Palestine office, stated the following about the situation of children in the Gaza Strip at the United Nations’ regular press conference held in Geneva on February 2nd: I made a statement. ＊ ＊ ＊
UNICEF estimates that at least 17,000 children in the Gaza Strip are unaccompanied or separated. Each of them has experienced
heart-wrenching loss and grief.
This is an estimate, as the current security and humanitarian situation makes collecting and verifying accurate information nearly impossible, but it represents 1% of Gaza’s 1.7 million displaced residents. This is the number of people.
[Image 2: https://prtimes.jp/i/5176/2293/resize/d5176-2293-b2a7cf04e9857ad4cb38-0.jpg&s3=5176-2293-d84f5d62003fe9db4450a88550737a82-1536×1024.jpg] UNICEF spokesperson Jonathan Clicks visits the IDP Cap in Rafah. (Gaza Strip, taken on January 28, 2024) (C) UNICEF_UNI514412_Ba
I returned from Gaza this week. Many children in Gaza had their own harrowing experiences. Of the 12 children I met or spoke to, more than half had lost a family member in the war. There were three children who had lost their parents, two of whom had lost both parents. 17,000 is not just a number; behind it is every child trying to come to terms with this frightening new reality.
A few weeks after the start of the fighting, 11-year-old Razan was at his uncle’s house with his family when he was bombed, killing his mother, father, older brother, and two younger sisters. In addition to losing almost her entire family, she also damaged her leg and had to have it amputated. Furthermore, after the surgery, the wound became suppurative. Razan is currently sheltering in Rafah under the protection of his uncle and aunt.
I met young children aged 6 and 4 at a facility that protects unaccompanied children. The two were cousins, and all members of both families lost their lives in early December last year. The 4-year-old girl in particular is still in shock. I met these children in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. I fear that the situation for orphaned children in northern and central Gaza may be even worse. It is common for children who lose their parents in combat to be cared for by relatives. But now, with food, water and shelter in such short supply, relatives are struggling to feed their own children and families in dire straits, making it difficult to immediately take care of another child. I am.
In these circumstances, emergency measures to provide interim protection for children need to be deployed at scale. It is necessary to know the contact information of family members and relatives and be able to confirm their whereabouts so that they can be reunited when the crisis situation stabilizes.
[Image 3: https://prtimes.jp/i/5176/2293/resize/d5176-2293-7ac9e993fbbbd732270a-0.jpg&s3=5176-2293-e2a9180416e2d79b3b7dfd0699be26b9-1536×1024.jpg] Kareem, an 11-year-old who lives in an evacuated home in fear of the fighting. “I always think about losing my family. Sometimes I dream about it,” she said. (Gaza Strip, taken on January 4, 2024) (C) UNICEF_UNI501948_Zaqout
Razan, like many children who go through such traumatic experiences, remains in shock. Every time I think about it, I cry and feel exhausted. She is also particularly challenged as she is unable to move freely and has no access to professional support or
Children’s mental health is severely affected. I continue to feel extremely anxious, have lost my appetite, can’t sleep, have emotional outbursts, and panic every time I hear the sound of bombing. Before the war began, UNICEF believed that more than 500,000 children in the Gaza Strip were already in need of mental health and
psychosocial support. Today, we estimate that almost all children, more than 1 million children, need psychological care.
UNICEF and its partners have provided mental health and psychosocial support to more than 40,000 children and 10,000 caregivers since the battle began. I have participated in such activities and it is such a relief to see children playing, drawing, dancing, singing, and smiling. These activities are helping children cope with the terrible situation they are currently experiencing. But of course, given the scale of the need, this is far from enough.
[Image 4: https://prtimes.jp/i/5176/2293/resize/d5176-2293-a3d6a90335d06872690c-0.jpg&s3=5176-2293-7844e457703669c51f6bea8b9a749e82-1536×1152.jpg] UNICEF and other organizations are providing psychological care to children living in Rafah. (Gaza Strip, taken on February 2, 2024) (C) UNICEF_UNI514667_Crickx
A ceasefire is the only way mental health and psychosocial support can be provided at scale. Before the war, in 2022, the UNICEF-led Child Protection Cluster had provided this assistance to nearly 100,000 children. Scaling up support is usually possible, as we have done in the past. However, given the current serious security and humanitarian situation in Gaza, this is not possible.
Lastly, I would like to add one thing. The children of Gaza have nothing to do with this fighting. However, they are experiencing pain that no child should ever experience. No child, regardless of religion, nationality, language or race, should be exposed to the kind of horrific violence that occurred on October 7 last year.
＊ ＊ ＊
■ About UNICEF
UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) is a United Nations agency that works to promote the rights and healthy development of all children. We are currently working with many partners in approximately 190 countries and regions* to translate our philosophy into concrete actions in a variety of ways. We work for all children, everywhere in the world, with a particular focus on supporting those most in need. UNICEF’s activities are funded entirely by donations from individuals, companies, and organizations, as well as voluntary contributions from governments around the world. https://www.unicef.or.jp/
*Includes 33 countries and regions where UNICEF National Committees (UNICEF Association) are active
■ About Japan UNICEF Association
The Japan Committee for UNICEF, a public interest incorporated foundation, is one of the UNICEF national committees in 33 developed countries and regions, and is the only private organization in Japan that represents UNICEF. ). https://www.unicef.or.jp/
More details about this release: