Gaza survivors left in inhumane conditions, children at risk: UN bodies
Palestinians mourn over the lifless bodies of four Children - AP/Khalil Hamra
By AMIRA EL-FEKKI

CAIRO: Survivors of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, face numerous humanitarian challenges after 29 days of intense raids by Israeli forces on houses, beach camps and shelters, which left Gaza in absolute demolition. Above all, the condition of children remains the most disturbing aspect of this war.

Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Kyung-Wha Kang spoke of the poor conditions in health and infrastructure surrounding Palestinians, who are suffering from a high insufficiency in essential needs such as food, medicine and electricity.

“Water and sewage cannot be pumped. Some people have been without water for nearly two weeks. Sewage is backing up and risks flooding low lying areas and contaminating the water system. This makes the outbreak of communicable and water-borne disease a very serious risk,” Kang warned during a UN session on Gaza held in New York City Wednesday.

Head of UNICEF in Gaza Pernille Ironside said in press statements Tuesday that such illnesses could be fatal among children, particularly those aged under five.

More than 400 children have been killed in Israel’s war on Gaza, and almost a thousand times as many are traumatized and face an “extraordinarily bleak” future, and about 373,000 Gaza kids are “in urgent need of psychological and social support to overcome the trauma they have experienced during the Israeli onslaught on the coastal enclave,” Press TV quoted Pernille saying Tuesday.

“It is an extraordinary thing to live through, and especially to survive and witness the use of incredibly damaging weapons that tend to slice people with terrible amputations and maims, shredding people apart in front of children’s eyes and in front of their parents as well,” Pernille added.

Many pictures and video footages released showed children covered in blood, being carried or rescued in hospitals, children’s toys among the ruins, leading to a worldwide series of protests throughout July demanding Israel to stop the killing of children.

“What hope is there for these children if adults no longer live up to their responsibility to protect them? … For the sake of children, all sides to this conflict must come to their senses, permit humanitarian workers to aid those in need, and agree to end these attacks.  Now, before more innocent lives are lost – including the most innocent of all, the very young.” UNICEF said in a statement on July 30.

Calling for an end of attacks to allow humanitarian aid to reach those in need, UNICEF released a report on July 31 stating that a total amount of $13.7 million was needed to cover a five-month period in the sectors of health and nutrition, WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene), education, child protection and cluster coordination.

UNICEF said $3.7 million were pledged by international donors but only $722,765 were actually received, in addition to $2 million received by the Emergency Program Fund (EPF).

Additionally, an estimated 450,000 people were displaced by the fighting or by instructions from the Israel Defence Forces. Of these, 270,000 were sheltered in 90 UNRWA schools, UNRWA COmmisisoner-General Pierre Krahebhul said in a statement addressed to the UN General Assembly on Thursday. UNRWA had five of its schools bombed and nine teachers killed in the process.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned Israel’s attacks on Palestinian civilians during the UN’s session on Gaza held on Wednesday in New York City, with the participation of permanent observers to the states of Palestine and Israel to the UN, Riyad Mansour and Ron Prosor, respectively.

“Yes, we uncovered cases in which weapons were stored in a small number of abandoned buildings [and] Hamas rockets were fired from near UN premises. Yet, let me be clear: Mere suspicion of militant activity does not justify jeopardizing the lives and safety of many thousands of innocent civilians,” Ban Ki-moon stated.

Robert H. Serry, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process also spoke at the conference from Cairo demanding the opening of Gaza’s legal crossing but maintained that they must remain under Israeli supervision.

International efforts to establish a truce between Israel and Gaza continued to fail throughout a month of war, despite temporary ceasefire agreements amid an alarming humanitarian situation and a shortage of medical provisions in Gaza.

At last, an Egyptian 72-hour ceasefire initiative was accepted by both parties and went into effect on Tuesday. Israel said on Wednesday it accepted a truce extension, but Hamas’ Political Bureau Deputy Head Moussa Abu Marzook, who is part of the Palestinian delegation to Egypt, denied that an agreement was reached in a tweet Wednesday night.

At least 1,867 people were killed since July 8 when Israel began air strikes on the Gaza Strip, and more than 9,470 were wounded, according to figures by the Palestinian Health Ministry on Aug.5, which stated that among the dead were 398 children and 207 women.

Those numbers were updated to 1,886 dead and 9,806 wounded by the ministry, according to Qatari Al-Arab news website on Thursday.

The UN Human Rights Council established on July 23 the Commission of Inquiry to investigate alleged Israeli war crimes against civilians in Gaza, despite US opposition. The commission is to present conclusions and recommendations in March 2015, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Wednesday.

Following her statements during the latest UN session on Gaza, Pillay also stressed upon the role of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to address the situation, and “render justice in cases where national authorities have been unable or unwilling to do so.”

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