Cairo, Nov 15 (EFE).- The situation in the Gaza Strip is “devastating” and there is “nowhere safe,” according to the executive director of the United Nations children’s agency after a visit to the Palestinian enclave under Israeli siege and bombardment.
Catherine Russell, the Executive Director of UNICEF, addresses a United Nations Security Council meeting called to address the conflict between Israel and Hamas, at United Nations headquarters in New York, New York, USA, 30 October 2023. EFE-EPA FILE/JUSTIN LANE
“What I saw and heard was devastating. They have endured repeated bombardment, loss and displacement. Inside the Strip, there is nowhere safe for Gaza’s one million children to turn,” Unicef’s Catherine Russell said Wednesday in a statement following her Tuesday visit.
“The parties to the conflict are committing grave violations against children; these include killing, maiming, abductions, attacks on schools and hospitals, and the denial of humanitarian access,” she said.
Russell was at Nasser hospital in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, where she met with displaced patients and families seeking shelter and safety.
“A 16-year-old girl told me from her hospital bed that her neighborhood had been bombed. She survived but doctors say she will never be able to walk again,” Russell said.
She added that “in Gaza, more than 4,600 children have reportedly been killed, with nearly 9,000 reportedly injured,” and many “children are missing and believed buried under the rubble of collapsed buildings and homes, the tragic result of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.”
The executive director noted that her agency and its partners are doing everything they can to alleviate the humanitarian crisis caused by Israel’s retaliation for Hamas’ Oct. 7 assault that killed 1,200 people.
More than 11,000 have now been killed in the Gaza Strip, the vast majority of them children and women, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health.
“Diesel fuel has practically run out, causing some hospitals and health centers to stop functioning. Without fuel, desalination plants cannot produce drinking water and humanitarian supplies cannot be distributed,” Russell said.
The Unicef chief had rare access granted to UN personnel. Before Russell, only the commissioner general of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini, has had access to Gaza since the start of the war. EFE