INDEPENDENT NEWS

Aid reaches Gaza vulnerable, ceasefire needed

Published: Thu 8 Jan 2009 04:59 PM
Media Release
UNICEF NZ (UN Children’s Fund)
UNICEF aid reaches Gaza’s vulnerable but ceasefire needed urgently
Wellington, 8 January 2009. – The nearly 1.5m residents of Gaza – more than half of whom are children – are living in increasingly appalling conditions amid credible reports of 680 people killed and over 3,000 wounded since late December.
The conflict has also severely damaged Gaza’s infrastructure. More than half of residents, for example, lack access to running water; over 1m residents are without electricity; sanitation services including solid waste removal have been discontinued; and there is a lack of medical care.
UNICEF is working closely with partners to stockpile drugs and other supplies to meet needs in coming months. Supplies ranging from family hygiene kits, water purification tablets and emergency education materials are already on their way from UNICEF country offices in the region.
UNICEF aid supplies have been getting through, some of which were pre-positioned in Gaza. Medical supplies provided include 355 First Aid kits, 20 resuscitation kits, and five emergency medical kits, each meeting the needs of 10,000 people over three months. Other recent supplies to get through include 560 family water kits (each kit serving six people) and five health kits.
UNICEF is appealing internationally for $21.3m to meet the expanding needs of vulnerable children affected by the ongoing conflict in Gaza.
UNICEF is also working with child protection partners to produce and broadcast radio and television messages designed to help parents keep their children as safe as possible and to enable them to identify and manage symptoms of distress.
Five UNICEF-supported psychosocial teams, each composed of 20-30 social workers, psychologists, lawyers and volunteers, are on standby to conduct emergency home and hospital visits, and provide psychosocial and socio-legal assistance as soon as access is possible and security permits.
UNICEF is appealing for $21.3m – a figure expected to rise further – to cover its aid efforts in Gaza in the areas of child health, child protection, and water and sanitation over the next 6-12 months.
UNICEF NZ Executive Director Dennis McKinlay says that although some life-saving supplies are getting through to vulnerable children and families affected by the conflict – helped by the daily three-hour ceasefire – an immediate and durable cease-fire by all parties is the only way to provide enduring protection for children.
“The daily ceasefire is a first small step in addressing the urgent needs of children caught in the conflict, but a great deal more needs to be done to protect the vulnerable, including children.
“Many people have fled their homes, seeking shelter with friends, relatives or in schools, or else sleeping in the cold.
“Parents report that children have had very little sleep and they show the common signs of trauma including severe anxiety, bed wetting, loss of appetite and general malaise.”
Mr McKinlay says that a durable ceasefire would allow UN agencies and NGOs to provide all the help and care that is desperately needed.
ENDS

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