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What will become of Gaza's children?

Half of the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip are children. They are the hardest hit by the war.
Half of the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip are children. They are the hardest hit by the war. Copyright Khalil Hamra/AP
Copyright Khalil Hamra/AP
By Cornelia Trefflich
Published on Updated
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This article was originally published in German

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), an average of 420 children are killed or injured in the Gaza Strip every day. But what happens to the children who survive this war?

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In the Gaza Strip, women and children are particularly affected by the humanitarian disaster. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO ), an average of 420 children are killed or injured every day in the Gaza Strip. More than 4,000 children are dead and more than 1,500 are believed to be buried under the rubble.

Nebal Farsakh, spokesperson for the Palestinian Red Crescent, told Euronews: "Under the rubble, children are now exposed to heavy bombardment day and night. They lack food, water, electricity, medicine, everything. And on top of that, there is no electricity. You cannot imagine the horror and fear they experience when it is completely dark. And the only sound they hear is the noise of the bombing."

You can't imagine the horror and fear they are living in when it's completely dark. And the only sound they hear is just the sound of bombardments."
Nebal Farsakh
Palestinian Red Crescent spokesperson

Families live in unimaginable conditions: There is a lack of clean water, food and medical care. Emergency shelters and temporary camps that far exceed their capacity take in four times as many people as they are designed for.

"Many schools are being used as emergency shelters. Schools that are not prepared to be shelters. This means that there is no access to water for many people there. The sanitation system is not prepared for this," UNICEF communications officer for the region Salim Oweis told Euronews.

Destroyed sanitation systems exacerbate the risk of disease

Collapsed and destroyed sanitation systems exacerbate the situation and increase the risk of the spread of water-borne diseases such as cholera.

Speaking to Euronews, Oweis says that families are forced to give their children dirty or salty water to protect them from dehydration.

"A colleague told us about her two girls who showed signs of dehydration. They have diarrhoea, which is a real challenge. One of the girls is starting to refuse the water she is offered because she doesn't think it's clean water, which is true because this water should not be drunk by children or adults."

In addition to the acute water shortage, medical care is also a huge problem. Hospitals are simply overwhelmed by the number of injured and sick people. In addition, there are around 50,000 pregnant women for whom adequate care is not possible. Over 100 premature babies are lying in incubators in hospital, which are running out of fuel to keep the oxygen machines running.

"We are risking a generation with psychological damage that will last a lifetime.
Salim Oweis
UNICEF- Communications officer, Middle East and North Africa

Fuel and electricity essential for hospitals

"Without electricity and fuel, it becomes increasingly dangerous for them - they are in mortal danger. These children can't even survive a few minutes without electricity. So it is very important that aid arrives unhindered and continuously, including water, medical supplies, food, but also fuel, which becomes a lifeline for the children and families in Gaza," explains Oweis.

But what does this war do to the children who have to survive and grow up in this war and have sometimes lost their entire family?

"We are risking a generation with psychological damage that will last a lifetime. (...) But we are also risking a generation that will not be able to be productive as adults, that will not be able to interact with their environment and be as productive as they can be, they will not realise their full potential. And then of course there is the problem of the cycle of violence that we create. (...) Violence is never the solution. Violence only creates violence," concludes Oweis.

Additional sources • WHO, Reuters

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