Gaza Humanitarian Update UNICEF WHO 19 December 2023
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Edited News | UNICEF , WHO

Gaza Humanitarian Update UNICEF WHO 19 December 2023

STORYLINE

“The Gaza Strip remains the most dangerous place in the world to be a child” – UNICEF

Amid the steady reported rise in the number of Gazans killed and injured during the Israeli military’s  ongoing bombardment in response to the 7 October terror attacks by Hamas and other armed groups, UN aid veterans on Tuesday expressed alarm about the desperate situation in the enclave’s hospitals.

“The Gaza Strip remains the most dangerous place in the world to be a child and day after day that brutal reality is reinforced,” said James Elder, spokesperson for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), briefing reporters at the UN in Geneva. Referring to the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, Mr. Elder said that “over the past 48 hours the largest remaining fully functional hospital in Gaza has been shelled – twice.”

Mr. Elder said that injured people do not have basic supplies and children recovering from amputations are being killed in the ongoing conflict.

He was speaking ahead of a scheduled UN Security Council meeting to vote on a resolution calling for a pause in fighting in Gaza to facilitate humanitarian aid deliveries for Palestinian civilians in need of food, water and medicine.

The UNICEF spokesperson emphasized that there were no “safe” zones in Gaza where children and their families could seek safety.

“The so-called ‘safe’ zones are only safe when they're not only free from bombardment, but when those conditions food, water, medicine and shelter are met. However, under the current besieged conditions, adequate supplies for such zones are impossible”, said Mr. Elder. “They are tiny patches of barren land or they're street corners in neighborhoods, or they have built buildings with no water, no facilities, no shelter from the cold and now the rain and certainly no sanitation.”

Today in Gaza there is around one toilet for 700 children and their families. Humanitarians remain increasingly concerned about rising hunger in the Gaza Strip, saying that child deaths from disease could well surpass those already killed in bombardments.

“Malnutrition is also soaring in Gaza's children. Therefore, things like diarrhoeal diseases are now deadly.” Mr. Elder stressed that “more than 130,000 of Gaza's most vulnerable children, that is newborns up to two years of age, are not receiving the critical lifesaving breast feeding or age-appropriate complementary feeding that they absolutely require. So that's also the scenario without sufficient safe water, food and sanitation, that only a humanitarian ceasefire would bring.”

According to the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Gaza, between 7 October and 18 December, at least 19,453 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza. About 70 per cent of those killed are said to be women and children. Some 52,286 Palestinians have been injured, according to the enclave’s Ministry of Health. Many people are missing, presumably buried under the rubble, waiting for rescue or recovery.

In a strongly worded statement, Mr. Elder said that he was “furious that those with power shrug as the humanitarian nightmares (are) unleashed on a million children. I'm furious that children who are recovering from amputations in hospitals are then killed in those hospitals. I'm furious that there are more children hiding as we speak somewhere who will no doubt be hit and have amputations in the coming days…I'm furious that of all the senseless attacks, the only admittance of dumb is the use of dumb bombs. I'm furious that disease is as well-armed as the warring parties. But no, it gets absolutely no attention.”

According to the latest report by the UN Office of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), on 18 December, in the early morning, Al Shifa Hospital was struck again, including the entrance gate and the Surgery Building. Reportedly, the strikes killed five people, including children. At about 10.30am, the hospital was struck again where internally displaced people were sheltering, reportedly killing 26 Palestinians and injuring others.

Quoting her medical colleagues working in Gaza, Dr. Margaret Harris, spokesperson of the UN health agency (WHO) said, that “they talk about not even being able to walk in the emergency areas because for fear of stepping on people. And when they're not stepping on people, they're stepping on blood. It's a scene that none of my colleagues, all of whom are people experience with emergencies, are doctors, they've never seen anything like it. And what I hear in meetings is, ‘I have no words. I've run out of words. I don't know how to even describe the horror I'm seeing.’”

The WHO official described hearing from a colleague recounting how people were “lying on the floor in severe pain, in agony, but they weren't asking for pain relief. They were asking for water. That it's beyond belief that the world is allowing this to continue.”

As Israeli aircraft and artillery continued to bomb the Gaza Strip on the 74th day of their offensive, UN humanitarians reiterated their calls for “an immediate and long-lasting humanitarian ceasefire” as the only way to end the killing and injuring of children, and child deaths from disease.

“I think that what makes beyond the sheer numbers of children with amputations, the sheer number of children with amputations who have not yet been told that their parents also died in the attack, and, of course, that every single child is enduring these 10 weeks of hell and not one of them can escape,” said Mr. Elder.

Dr. Harris reported that getting the aid delivery into Gaza is already a big challenge, but to get to the hospitals inside Gaza is even more difficult since vehicles cannot access the severely damaged roads. Therefore, many patients are either carried by their relatives or transported in donkey carts.

“Vast numbers of people are sick now from other diseases. Vast numbers of people need health care way more than was needed in normal times and yet so little is either coming across the border,” she said. “But then even less can actually get to the hospitals because of the massive infrastructure damage.”

-ends- 

STORY: Gaza Humanitarian Update – UNICEF, WHO

TRT: 3:57”
SOURCE: UNTV CH
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9
DATELINE: 19 December 2023 - GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

SHOTLIST

  1. Exterior wide shot: UN building with UN flag, UN Geneva.
  2. Wide shot, press briefing room with moderator UN Geneva
  3. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) – James Elder, UNICEF spokesperson: “The Gaza Strip remains the most dangerous place in the world to be a child and day after day that brutal reality is reinforced. Over the past 48 hours the largest remaining fully functional hospital in Gaza has been shelled - twice.” 
  4. Cutaway: Medium shot, press briefing room with spokesperson at the podium and journalists and speaker on the screens, UN Geneva
  5. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) – James Elder, UNICEF spokesperson: “The so-called safe zones are only safe when they're not only free from bombardment, but when those conditions food, water, medicine and shelter are met. However, under the current besieged conditions, adequate supplies for such zones are impossible. I saw this for myself. They are tiny patches of barren land or they're street corners in neighborhoods, or they have built buildings with no water, no facilities, no shelter from the cold and now the rain and certainly no sanitation.”
  6. Cutaway: Wide shot, press briefing room with spokespersons on podium and journalists, UN Geneva
  7. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) - James Elder, UNICEF spokesperson: “Malnutrition is also soaring in Gaza's children. Therefore, things like diarrheal diseases are now deadly. Consider this: more than 130,000 of Gaza's most vulnerable children, that is newborns up to two years of age, are not receiving the critical lifesaving breast feeding or age appropriate complementary feeding that they absolutely require. So that's also the scenario without sufficient safe water, food and sanitation, that only a humanitarian cease fire would bring. Child deaths due to disease could well surpass those already killed in bombardments.”
  8. Cutaway: Medium shot, journalists listening, UN Geneva
  9. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) - James Elder, UNICEF spokesperson: “I'm furious. I'm furious that those with power shrug as the humanitarian nightmares unleashed on a million children. I'm furious that children who are recovering from amputations in hospitals are then killed in those hospitals. I'm furious that there are more children hiding as we speak somewhere who will no doubt be hit and have amputations in the coming days. I'm furious that of all the senseless attacks, the only admittance of dumb is the use of dumb bombs. I'm furious that disease is as well-armed as the warring parties. But no, it gets absolutely no attention.”
  10. Cutaway: Medium shot, camera people with UNTV colleagues, UN Geneva
  11. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) – Margaret Harris, WHO spokesperson: “They talk about not even being able to walk in the emergency areas because for fear of stepping on people. And when they're not stepping on people, they're stepping on blood. It's a scene that none of my colleagues, all of whom are people experience with emergencies, are doctors, they've never seen anything like it. And what I hear in meetings is ‘I have no words. I've run out of words. I don't know how to even describe the horror I'm seeing’ “. 
  12. Cutaway: Wide shot, spokespersons on the podium, UN Geneva
  13. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) – Margaret Harris, WHO spokesperson: “One of my colleagues described people lying on the floor in severe pain, in agony, but they weren't asking for pain relief. They were asking for water. That it's beyond belief that the world is allowing this to continue.”
  14. Cutaway: close up, journalist watching cell phone, UN Geneva
  15. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) - James Elder, UNICEF spokesperson: “So I think that's what makes beyond the sheer numbers of children with amputations, the sheer number of children with amputations who have not yet been told that their parents also died in the attack, and, of course, that every single child is enduring these ten weeks of hell and not one of them can escape.”
  16. Cutaway: Medium shot, journalists listening
  17. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) – Margaret Harris, WHO spokesperson: “Vast numbers of people are sick now from other diseases. Vast numbers of people need health care way more than was needed in normal times and yet so little is either coming across the border. But then even less can actually get to the hospitals because of the massive infrastructure damage.”
  18. Cutaway: close up, journalist watching laptop screen, UN Geneva
  19. Cutaway: close up, spokesperson watching cell phone, UN Geneva


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