Press Releases Emergency Call for Action to ensure respect for Palestinian children’s rights and scaled-up principled humanitarian action in Gaza and the West Bank

Emergency Call for Action to ensure respect for Palestinian children’s rights and scaled-up principled humanitarian action in Gaza and the West Bank

Emergency Call for Action to ensure respect for Palestinian children’s rights and scaled-up principled humanitarian action in Gaza and the West Bank
The Belgian Presidency and the European Commission are alarmed by the continued deteriorating humanitarian situation for children in Gaza, where of the 29782 Palestinians reported killed since the start of hostilities, up to 70% are women and children. More than 11,682 children are reported to have been injured, and thousands more are reported missing and are likely to be injured or killed under the rubble of destroyed buildings. 1 million children are displaced in Gaza, facing constant risks of exposure to violence and abuse including gender-based violence, detention, explosive ordnances, risks associated with loss of civil documentation to prove their existence, risks associated with attacks against schools and hospitals and lack of access to humanitarian aid. An estimated 17,000 children have been separated or lost their parents. This situation has led to many children suffering from psychological trauma. UNICEF estimates that more than 1 million children are in need of psychological support. Children with pre-existing and new mental or physical disabilities will be exposed to exacerbated risks of violence and abuse.

The risk of famine in Gaza increases daily, particularly for hundreds of thousands
in northern Gaza who have been predominantly cut off from assistance. Moreover,
health care in Gaza remains extremely precarious and subject to acute shortages of
fuel, medical supplies and medical personnel, access restrictions, and fast deteriorating health conditions. From 7 October to 28 November, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported 795 health attacks in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, resulting in 678 health workers killed and 920 injured. Access to essential health services, including emergency obstetric care and new-born care, is severely limited, particularly for women and girls. The water and sanitation situation is also critical; water production capacity is reduced to up to 40% of the normal daily production, leading people to consume unsafe water and limiting access to WASH services, especially concerning for children and adolescent girls.

In all wars, children suffer first and suffer most, but wars have rules. IHL must
be respected and there should be unconditional release of all children held by

We call for an immediate and long-lasting humanitarian pause that would lead to a
sustainable ceasefire and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages
held by Hamas, especially children, and the provision of humanitarian assistance.
Furthermore, education in schools has halted in Gaza. Over 625,000 students
have been deprived of education. Over 5055 students have been killed and more
than 8497 students have been injured. All UNRWA schools in the Gaza Strip have
closed – most of them have turned into shelters – depriving the 300,000 children who attended them of their education.

The situation of children in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is also of
concern. Military law enforcement operations inside Palestinian communities and
refugee camps as well as settler violence and movement restrictions, continue to put
Palestinian children at higher risk of violence, including detention, exposure to
unexploded ordnances, grave violations, and displacement, and impact their access
to services. Since 7 October, at least 2763 Palestinians including 1319 children have been displaced, mainly in Area C and East Jerusalem, due to settler violence and access restrictions, home demolitions, and destruction of residences during military law enforcement operations. Children living in hot spot areas are not able to reach their schools due to security issues. Teaching and learning material have been largely destroyed and will need to be replaced for education to resume.

Against this background and based on the Convention of the Rights of the Child, the UNSC resolutions 2712 and 2720, we call for urgent assistance to the children of Gaza and the West Bank.

1. We call for an immediate humanitarian pause, leading to a sustainable

2. We call for the respect of international law, including international human
rights law and humanitarian law. We recall the obligations for the parties
to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, such as shelters and schools, and
health, electric, water, sanitation facilities, to prevent loss of civilian and children’s
lives, outbreaks of diseases, and to provide safe spaces and care to the sick and
wounded, to those sheltered in public building such as schools, and to ensure the
uninterrupted and secure humanitarian access for delivering of critical and life-saving
aid (fuel, cooking gas, food items, medical supplies, dignity and menstrual hygiene

3. Any grave violations against all children, including killing and maiming of
children should end. We call for the immediate, safe and unconditional release of
all detained children and hostages in particular.

4. We call for safe and unrestricted humanitarian access to and within the
Gaza Strip, including in the north, and in the West Bank to reach affected populations wherever they are. All access crossings must be opened. Safe and unhindered movement for humanitarian workers and supplies across the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank must be guaranteed.

5. We pledge to support a scaled-up UN-coordinated and principled
humanitarian response to the Palestinian Children in Gaza and the West Bank
with a focus in particular on the following areas and with due regard for children with special needs:

i. The urgent provision of life-saving assistance and services: delivery of blankets, tents and warm clothes, fuel for heating and cooking, dignity kits including menstrual health management kits for women and adolescent girls; provide food assistance to families to enable parents to care for their children as we as families caring for un-accompanied children and deliver a range of essential nutrition supplies including, amongst other essentials, high energy biscuits for children under the age of 5 and micronutrient supplementation for children and pregnant and breastfeeding women; actions focused on children’s water, sanitation and hygiene needs: support water trucking to shelters and the distribution of bottled water. Provide water containers, chlorine tablets for water purification and fuel to operate water wells, desalination plants and trucking, distributing family hygiene kits, etc; identification, registration and tracing services for children and families who have gone missing or have been separated and provide safe emergency care arrangements for unaccompanied children including those who have been released.

ii. Palestinian children’s access to health care: the delivery of medicines and emergency medical supplies to hospitals and health facilities, including supplies for new-borns, kits for midwives, kits to treat acute watery diarrhoea and other life-saving medicines.

iii. Palestinian children’s access to Mental Health and psychological support: provide MHPSS activities for children and parents/caregivers.

iv. Palestinian children’s access to education: resume access to education during and in the aftermath of humanitarian emergencies as soon as possible, to create a safe space, bring a sense of normalcy to children and avoid a lost generation. Provide children with training on landmine or other explosive weapons prevention and/or survivor assistance interventions.

v. Humanitarian cash support for the most vulnerable households to meet their basic needs and the specific needs of their children.

vi. Specific support for unaccompanied Palestinian children who have been separated or lost their parents and are more vulnerable to any kind of abuse and exploitation.



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