Save the Children urges an end to violence at border which has seen 948 children hit by live ammunition and for support for those who have been wounded.
While early signs are that an agreement could bring relative calm to Gaza, months of violence leave behind almost 1,000 Palestinian children shot and maimed by live ammunition. As they struggle in a crippled health system, it is vital to support these children in recovering from their physical and mental wounds and ensure no further children are injured, Save the Children warns.
To date more than 5,100 Palestinian children have been injured since the protests began, according to the UN. In total, it says 24,362 Palestinians have been injured and 228 killed since 30th March. In the same period 40 Israelis have been injured and one soldier killed.
Even for the most seriously injured, there is little chance they can leave Gaza to get the treatment that could, in some cases, save their limbs. The WHO reports that less than a quarter of people injured in the protests have been permitted to leave Gaza for treatment.
According to a recent report, 460 Palestinians will be in need of long-term limb reconstruction following the recent mass demonstrations, requiring up to seven surgeries and extensive treatment for up to two years. More than 80 of them may be children. The numbers are expected to increase. Since 30th March there have been 15 amputations on children.
Ibrahim Abu Sobeih, Save the Children’s Program Manager in Gaza, added:
“Many injured children are not only facing physical injuries but also psychological implications for their mental health. They need adequate support to recover from their traumatic experiences. They need to learn to walk again, to move, but also to live.”
“Already before the recent events, we were deeply concerned about the psychological impact of prolonged exposure to extreme violence and the blockade on the children of Gaza. If left untreated, the symptoms of anxiety and depression could have long term physical and psychological damage.”
Yet hospitals in Gaza are overstretched. Some 8,000 pre-scheduled surgeries, including critical cases, have been postponed. Since the start of 2018, 462 health workers have been injured and three killed in violence at the perimeter, putting a further strain on Gaza’s health system. Gaza’s central medical store is already out of 40 per cent of essential medicines, with a further 47 per cent at less than one month’s supply .
Tom Krift, Save the Children’s Regional Director for the Middle East, said:
“The Israeli government must end the use of sniper fire and live ammunition against children in Gaza. The killing and wounding of children is never acceptable, all parties must ensure that children are not targets. We strongly urge all protests to remain peaceful.”
“The long-standing blockade has created a fuel shortage which makes it harder for hospitals to function and for injured children to get the medical care they need. It puts the lives of hundreds of children at risk.”
“There are encouraging signs that the reported agreement may help stop further child casualties. To prevent more of Gaza’s children from having their lives shattered by bullets all sides must redouble their efforts to find a peaceful solution and tackle the long-term causes of this conflict.”
“In line with international humanitarian and human rights law, we are calling for an end to the blockade. Lifting it will be essential to allow health services to re-establish health care that can save lives and prevent long term disability. It will also be a vital step towards achieving durable peace that enables reconstruction and recovery.”
For interviews contact Alex Sampson on 0429 943 027