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Emergency Update

Since violence escalated on 7 October 2023, thousands of children have been killed or injured, and almost every child in the Gaza Strip has been exposed to deeply distressing events and trauma marked by widespread destruction, relentless attacks, displacement, and severe shortages of essential necessities such as food, water, and medicine.    

Large parts of Gaza's infrastructure, including critical water and sanitation systems, have been reduced to rubble. Over 1.7 million people are internally displaced, around half of them children, and many have sought refuge in overcrowded shelters with extremely limited access to water, sanitation and hygiene – conditions that are especially dangerous for young children.   

Access is difficult and limited, but our teams won’t give up trying to get critical supplies to children.  

"The ongoing surge of conflict-related violence continues to take a horrendous toll on the lives of children and their families in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel. Nothing justifies the killing, maiming or abduction of children. "

James Elder
UNICEF Spokesperson
At a school in the Gaza Strip, a five-year-old girl clutches her doll as she gazes up at the sky.
At a school in the Gaza Strip, a five-year-old girl clutches her doll as she gazes up at the sky.
© UNICEF/UNI448738/Ajjour

Despite the challenging humanitarian and security situation, UNICEF and partners are actively present in the Gaza Strip to provide immediate lifesaving humanitarian support, including delivering medical supplies, ready-to-eat food, tents, blankets, hygiene kits, bottled water, fuel for the operation of critical Water, Hygiene, and Sanitation (WASH) facilities, water treatment essentials, and mental health and psychosocial support. UNICEF efforts also encompass closely monitoring grave child rights violations and providing child-sensitive humanitarian cash assistance. 

In the Gaza Strip, two-year-old Leen is getting her middle-upper-arm-circumference (MUAC) measured. The red zone indicates that Leen has the severest form of malnutrition.
In the Gaza Strip, two-year-old Leen is getting her middle-upper-arm-circumference (MUAC) measured. The red zone indicates that Leen has the severest form of malnutrition.
© UNICEF/UNI519938/El Baba

Children’s lives threatened by rising malnutrition in the Gaza Strip

A steep rise in malnutrition among children and pregnant and breastfeeding women in the Gaza strip poses grave threats to their health, according to a comprehensive new analysis released by the Global Nutrition Cluster.

The situation is especially serious in the north, where one in six children under the age of two is acutely malnourished. 

UNICEF calls for the immediate cessation of hostilities and for all parties to unconditionally protect children from harm, in accordance with human rights law.  

Children in the region have already lived through many crises in the past years. No place is safe for children while this intense fighting continues.   

A seven-year-old girl stands out the front of destroyed homes at the Gaza Strip.
A seven-year-old girl stands out the front of destroyed homes at the Gaza Strip.
© UNICEF/UNI448902/Ajjour

What is UNICEF doing for children in Gaza? 

Before the renewed violence, Gaza was already facing a complex and challenging humanitarian situation with 1.1 million children in need of humanitarian aid – accounting for approximately half the child population.

UNICEF has been on the ground in the Gaza and the West Bank for the past four decades, working to uphold the rights of all children to access services and protection.  

Our objective is to ensure that every child irrespective of background or circumstance, has an equal chance to fulfil their potential even in times of conflict. 

The events of Saturday 7 October 2023 are a stark reminder that a lasting political solution to the ongoing crisis for children is needed now more than ever. Children have the right to grow up in peace, free from the shadow of violence. 

UNICEF is continuing to respond to the critical needs of children in Gaza, but access is difficult and dangerous. 

UNICEF has been working around the clock to deliver desperately needed lifesaving supplies and support services, including psychosocial support, to children and their families since the conflict escalated on 7 October 2023. 

During the pause in fighting, which lasted between 24 November and 1 December, UNICEF scaled up its efforts, moving lifesaving supplies into Gaza and across the strip wherever logistically possible due to the widescale destruction of the infrastructure and threat posed by unexploded ordnances. UNICEF prioritised medical supplies, bottled water, ready-to-eat food, tents, blankets and hygiene kits. 

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.
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.
© UNICEF/UNI448940/El Baba

What is UNICEF doing for children in Israel? 

No matter where they live, a child is a child. UNICEF is calling for an immediate ceasefire to hostilities and for all parties to unconditionally protect children from harm and afford them the special protection to which they are entitled, in accordance with their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law.   

Israeli children displaced by this conflict are seeking shelter in schools and emergency shelters and UNICEF is concerned for their safety and protection.   

In high-income countries like Israel, governments generally have adequate capacity and resources to respond to emergencies. In these countries, UNICEF programs are not required unless requested by the Government, which Israel has not requested.

This UNICEF Australia appeal is specifically for children in Gaza where UNICEF has teams and programs.  

Our work to protect and advocate for all children across Israel, Gaza and the West Bank will continue. Every single child, no matter who or where they are, must be protected.    

In over 30 countries where UNICEF does not conduct programmatic activities, National Committees for UNICEF (like us at UNICEF Australia) serve as the dedicated voice of UNICEF and work to promote children's rights. The Israeli Fund for UNICEF was established in 2009 and works to raise awareness of children’s rights in Israel and to raise funds for UNICEF’s lifesaving work across the world. 

Every single child, no matter who or where they are, must be protected.  

Learn more about the work we do in Israel. 

We are always there for children, no matter where they are  

UNICEF is there for every child, amidst conflict and natural disasters – no matter where they are. UNICEF works in over 190 countries and territories to save children's lives, to defend their rights, and to help them fulfil their potential, from early childhood through adolescence. And we never give up. 

But we can’t do it alone. We need your help today.

A young boy in Gaza assesses the damage caused by recent airstrikes.
© UNICEF/UNI457832/El Baba

For children in crisis, every second counts

UNICEF is providing urgent assistance to children. But we can’t do it alone. We need your help today.