Humanitarian situation in Gaza worsens as attacks continue

By staff writers
November 19, 2012

Families in the Gaza Strip who are used to living in very difficult conditions are now running out of food and water, say aid agencies.

As the Israeli assault on the area continues, hospitals are running out of supplies and more than 1.7 million people - half of whom are children - have been trapped in their houses for days, with power cuts lasting up to 18 hours a day.

Some 84 Palestinians and three Israelis have died since the conflict broke out again last week.

“It is a dangerous and terrifying time for children - who make up nearly half the population of the Gaza Strip,” said Osama Damp, one of the Save the Children’s team in Gaza.

“Most families have been trapped at home for four days, unable to leave to find basic supplies. With so many children already malnourished and suffering from anaemia; the impact on children’s health is potentially devastating," he added.

“There is no clean water so children are going to have to start drinking the polluted tap water soon which is going to cause more severe health problems. When they fall ill their parents can’t take them to hospital,” said Mr Damp.

Schools and clinics have been badly affected. Twenty-five schools have been damaged along with two clinics and one hospital. The damage to schools will affect children from both Gaza and Israel as schools will remain closed for the duration of this conflict.

Save the Children has launched an emergency response to the escalating violence.

As soon as it is safe to do so, the agency says, teams will distribute food parcels, water and shelter materials to families, and vital medicines to hospitals.

The internationally recognised aid agency organisation will also set up child spaces with specially trained staff and counsellors to help children cope with their experiences and support basic education to re-start.

Alex Schein, Save the Children’s country director, explained: “The escalation of violence on top of an already fragile situation is extremely dangerous for children. They are being deeply affected by what they have experienced, and many could need specialist care and support.

“The fear among adults is unbelievable so you can imagine what it’s like for children,” he concluded.

Global relief and development NGOs iare calling for an immediate and permanent cease-fire.


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