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Gaza Photo Story: Six Months of Conflict Leave Many Children on Brink of Famine

A five-year-old boy sits on his mattress in a shelter courtyard surrounded by several hundred other displaced people. Photo © UNICEF/Eyad El Baba.

Six months into the full-scale invasion of Gaza, the humanitarian crisis has reached catastrophic levels. With 30,000 Palestinians dead, dozens of children succumbing to hunger, and over half a million Gazans facing starvation, the situation is dire. Continuous Israeli bombings and severe restrictions on the entry of lifesaving goods have exacerbated the plight of the population, prompting a desperate scramble from the UN to respond.

A boy walks thoughtfully as he inspects the rubble of destroyed houses in the city of Rafah, southern Gaza Strip.
UNICEF spokesperson, Jonathan Crickx, visited Gaza in early February. Most of the children he met or spoke to had lost a family member. © UNICEF/Eyad El Baba

Gaza Strip. Six months into the full-scale invasion of Gaza, the humanitarian crisis has reached catastrophic levels. With 30,000 Palestinians dead, dozens of children succumbing to hunger, and over half a million Gazans facing starvation, the situation is dire.

Continuous Israeli bombings and severe restrictions on the entry of lifesaving goods have exacerbated the plight of the population, prompting a desperate scramble from the U.N. to respond.

We have just witnessed over the last few weeks the largest displacement of Palestinians since 1948. The scale of destruction and loss is staggering.
One girl he spoke to was with her family in her uncle’s house when it was bombed in the first weeks of the war. Her mother, father, brother, and two sisters were killed. Her leg had to be amputated. Photo: © UNRWA.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) reports a 50 percent reduction in aid deliveries into Gaza, attributing the decline to a lack of political will and security assurances amid ongoing Israeli military operations and the collapse of civil order.

As the crisis deepens, some nations are reportedly bypassing Israeli restrictions by airdropping food bundles, while the United States plans to construct a temporary port in Gaza to ensure aid deliveries.

The World Health Organization (WHO) team delivered emergency medical supplies and trauma kits to the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis in southern Gaza in January.

WHO’s chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned, “Children who survived bombardment may not survive a famine,” highlighting that one in six children in Gaza is currently dangerously malnourished.

A 14-year-old boy carries mattresses and blankets on his head while his family follows him to an emergency shelter in the Gaza Strip.
In a center that hosts and cares for unaccompanied children, he saw two cousins, aged six and four. Their entire respective families were killed in the first half of December. The four-year-old girl – in particular – was still in shock. Photo: © UNICEF/Eyad El Baba.

Many children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition and drastic weight loss. In mid-February, three-year-old Akram was screened for malnutrition at a UNICEF tent in Rafah.

Emergency missions by U.N. agencies and the Palestinian Red Crescent Society were deployed in late February to assess conditions and deliver vital aid and medical supplies to Gaza hospitals.

Children account for around half of the almost two million Gazans who have been forced to leave their homes and search for shelter elsewhere in the Strip, since Israel’s current military operation began. The U.N. children’s agency, UNICEF, estimates that around 17,000 have been orphaned.

Access to clean water is a matter of life and death. In Gaza, every day is a struggle to find bread and water. Every day is a struggle to survive. Without safe water, many more people will die from deprivation and disease.
Children’s mental health is severely impacted. Symptoms include extremely high levels of persistent anxiety, loss of appetite, and an inability to sleep, They have emotional outbursts, or panic every time they hear the bombings. Photo © UNRWA.

Due to the sheer lack of food, water or shelter, extended families are distressed and face challenges to immediately take care of another child as they themselves are struggling to cater for their own children and family.

On 11 January 2024, internally displaced people look through the window at a shelter centre in Al-Quds Open University.
Before this war, more than 500,000 children were already in need of mental health and psychosocial support in the Gaza Strip. Today, it is estimated that more than one million children are in need of such help. Photo © UNICEF/Eyad alBaba.
Children play in a classroom at a shelter located in Rafah city.
“Not a single child, whatever the religion, the nationality, the language, the race, should ever be exposed to the level of violence seen on the 7th of October, or to the level of violence that we have witnessed since then”. Jonathan Crickx, UNICEF Head of Communications for UNICEF in Palestine. Photo © UNICEF/Eyad El Baba.
A girl sits in front of her tent at an UNRWA shelter camp in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip.
Photo © UNICEF/Abed Zaqout.

Find out how to help the children of Gaza here.

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