Children are bearing the brunt of a protracted and violent conflict between Hamas and the Israeli military in the Gaza Strip. Nearly 470 children have been killed since fighting in the densely populated Palestinian enclave began on July 8, the United Nations Children’s Fund, or UNICEF, said on Thursday, according to a U.N. News Centre report.
More than 370,000 children are in urgent need of “psycho-social first aid,” UNICEF chief Pernilla Ironside reportedly said at a press conference in Geneva on Thursday. UNICEF has 50 psychologists and counselors stationed in the Gaza Strip, the report added.
“All they (the children) want is a sense of safety,” Ironside said. “Children need to have that sense of security.”
However, she added, much more is left to be done as the needs of Gazans are “staggering,” because not only children, but parents too are in a state of trauma.
“There isn't a single family in Gaza who hasn't experienced personally death, injury, the loss of their home, extensive damage and displacement,” she said. “The impact has truly been vast, both at a very physical level, in terms of casualties, injuries, the infrastructure that's been damaged, but also importantly, emotionally and psychologically in terms of the destabilizing impact that not knowing, not truly feeling like there is anywhere safe place to go in Gaza.”
More than 314,000 Palestinians, including women and children, have been displaced by the ongoing conflict in Gaza and have sought refuge in 83 U.N. schools, Chris Gunness, spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, said. More than 200 schools have reportedly been hit by airstrikes, of which 22 have been completely destroyed.
#Gaza children must be given a chance to heal from the trauma of having lost loved ones & the pressures of daily attacks and displacement RT
— Chris Gunness (@ChrisGunness) August 21, 2014
Meanwhile, the conflict in Gaza continued unabated on Thursday and early Friday. The Israeli army killed 29 Palestinians on Thursday and struck 10 targets overnight, Haaretz reported, raising the death toll to 2,050.