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UN says 3,000 malnourished kids in Gaza dying before eyes of families

A four-year-old Palestinian child who suffers from malnutrition rests near his mother (not pictured) at their shelter at the UNRWA-run Salaheddin school in central Gaza City on June 10, 2024. (AFP)


The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says nearly 3,000 children are at risk of dying before the eyes of their families as they have been cut off from treatment for severe acute malnutrition in southern Gaza.

The figures, based on reporting from UNICEF’s nutrition partners, come as only two of the Gaza Strip’s three stabilization centers that treat seriously malnourished children are functioning.  

“Horrific images continue to emerge from Gaza of children dying before their families’ eyes due to the continued lack of food, nutrition supplies, and the destruction of healthcare services,” said UNICEF Regional Director for West Asia and North Africa Adele Khodr.

“Unless treatment can be quickly resumed for these 3,000 children, they are at immediate and serious risk of becoming critically ill, acquiring life-threatening complications, and joining the growing list of boys and girls who have been killed by this senseless, man-made deprivation.”

Malnourished children are at heightened risk of catching diseases and other health issues due to limited access to safe water, sewage overflow, infrastructure damage, and a lack of hygiene items.

According to medics, treating a child for acute malnutrition typically takes six to eight weeks of uninterrupted care and requires special therapeutic food, safe water, and other medical support.

“Our warnings of mounting child deaths from a preventable combination of malnutrition, dehydration and disease should have mobilized immediate action to save children’s lives, and yet, this devastation continues,” Khodr said.

"With hospitals destroyed, treatments stopped and supplies scant, we are poising for more child suffering and deaths.”

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has added Israel’s military to a global list of offenders that have committed violations against children.

Israel's inclusion in the list comes after eight months of devastating war killed more than 15,500 children in Gaza and have created what UN and aid officials call a man-made crisis of near-starvation.

With many of Gaza’s water wells and pipelines destroyed during the military campaign, clean water has become increasingly difficult to find, according to UNRWA, UN agency providing relief to Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip.

The UN agency said in a message on X that children often make long treks to fetch water, lugging heavy containers back to their homes or shelters

“Children are losing their childhood because of this war. This needs to stop now."

UNRWA says 70% of the population is drinking salty and contaminated water since Israel launched its military campaign in Gaza in early October.

Across Gaza, only 1.5 to 1.8 liters of water per day is available to each person, it said.

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