Warning on Gaza children's plight
Published 19/11/2012 | 08:05
Hundreds of thousands of children are trapped in houses in Gaza facing prolonged power cuts and depleting supplies of food and water, according to Save the Children.
The charity has called for an immediate end to the conflict between Israel and Gaza as fears grow that the situation will have a devastating affect on children who make up nearly half the 1.7 million population of the Gaza Strip.
It said 25 schools, two clinics and a hospital have been damaged in the Gaza, while schools on both sides of the border remain closed during the conflict.
Osama Damo, part of Save the Children's team in Gaza, said: "It is a dangerous and terrifying time for children, who make up nearly half the population of the Gaza Strip.
"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.
"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."
Some are experiencing power cuts of up to 18 hours a day.
The charity warned that children already faced "very difficult" conditions before the current conflict, which has created severe food and water shortages and left hospitals running low on supplies.
Save the Children has called for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and launched an emergency response to the escalating violence.
As of this morning, seven children had died and 105 been injured in the conflict, according to the charity, which stressed that the rapidly changing situation meant the figures could now be higher.
Once Gaza becomes safe to enter, Save the Children teams will distribute food parcels, water and shelter materials to families, and vital medicines to hospitals.
It has also pledged to set up "child spaces" with specially trained staff and counsellors to help children cope with their experiences, as well as helping restart basic education.
Alex Schein, Save the Children's country director said: "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."