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Children in Gaza cannot wait any longer for ceasefire

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Emergency Refugees

We demand a complete and unconditional ceasefire, immediately.

In 41 days 11,078 people, including over 4,600 children, have been killed according to the United Nations. No conflict should ever reach this point.  

The catastrophic result of the violence which continues to engulf Gaza is appalling and devastating. The number of children killed each day continues to rise.

Children inside Gaza will be suffering the effects of the trauma of war and require psychosocial support.

Plan International condemns the ongoing killing of thousands of innocent children and other civilians in Gaza and we continue to demand a complete and unconditional ceasefire, immediately.

Safety for children is deteriorating rapidly

Living conditions and overall safety for children and civilians in Gaza continue to deteriorate and hospitals are now being damaged or destroyed as they are subjected to heavy strikes. The news that Al-Shifa hospital, the largest medical complex in Gaza, is unable to operate leaves us gravely concerned about the patients and healthcare workers inside who are unable to leave.

Attacks on hospitals across Gaza must stop and desperately needed fuel must be allowed to reach them to power their generators. Currently at Al-Shifa hospital, 36 premature babies need intensive care – without access to incubators, they are unlikely to survive.

Hospitals should be a place where lives are saved, but instead we hear reports that staff are preparing a mass burial in the hospital compound to bury 180 bodies of patients which cannot be moved due to the fighting. 

We urge all parties involved in the conflict to strictly adhere to the International Humanitarian Law (IHL). It is against IHL to attack health establishments and units, including hospitals, and the wounded and sick as well as medical staff and means of transport.

50% of hospitals unable to function

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported there are 27,490 people injured in Gaza, 9,137 of whom are children, but that 50% of hospitals are not able to function properly – warning of a rapidly evolving public health catastrophe.

The WHO says there are 35,000 people inside Gaza with non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer in need of treatment.

Further disease outbreaks are imminent if fuel is not allowed into Gaza, without fuel to pump sewage and remove waste, cholera and other communicable diseases will spread easily and more people are likely to get sick and die.

As of 16 November, reports from The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) indicate that sewage has started flowing in the streets of Gaza.

Aid workers killed

Last week it was reported that four hospitals were attacked. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) have reported that more than 101 of its employees have died in Gaza since the 7 October 2023 – the highest number of aid workers they have lost in such a short time. Children, hospitals, medical professionals, and aid workers must be protected. 

Plan International continues to demand for the immediate release of hostages – according to the Israeli authorities over 239 people are held captive in Gaza with the UN reporting that at least 30 of the captives are children. These children, who have not been heard from in over a month, are likely to be experiencing huge trauma and in need of emotional care and support.

In Gaza there are 1.5 million people displaced and 588,000 are seeking refuge in UNRWA shelters where on average, every toilet is shared by 160 people, and every shower unit by 700 people.

These conditions are unsafe and insufficient – the first step to saving lives and delivering critical support to children and their families is an immediate and complete ceasefire, now. 

Fuel needed for humanitarians to operate

We welcome the adoption yesterday of the long overdue UN Security Council Resolution 2712 which in part, reminds all parties of their obligations under IHL, and calls for “urgent and extended humanitarian pauses”. It is a crucial first step to better protect and support civilians in Gaza, but it now must be turned into a reality. The parties to conflict and all UN Member States have a duty to make that happen.

Fuel must be allowed into Gaza immediately – humanitarian organisations and the civilians of Gaza cannot wait any longer. UNRWA has announced that humanitarian operations will grind to a halt imminently if no fuel can enter Gaza. The situation will become even more dire, and more lives will be needlessly lost.

Children are innocent and pay the heaviest cost of war. We are horrified by the targeting of hospitals, schools, and refugee camps in Gaza – and the complete disregard for IHL obligations. This has to stop. Now.