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Emergency Update

Since violence escalated on 7 October 2023, over 14,000 children have been killed and thousands more injured, and 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.    

Children in Gaza, especially in the northern regions, who have survived unimaginable war atrocities, are now dying of starvation and dehydration. They are being deprived of food, water and health care while facing a looming famine.  

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.  

A Palestinian family with their children flees their home amid the increase of hostilities.
in Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip.
A Palestinian family with their children flees their home amid the increase of hostilities. in Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip.
© UNICEF/UNI571259/El Baba

Latest statements from UNICEF

Statement on intensifying hostilities in Rafah and north Gaza

UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Adele Khodr, talks about the escalation of hostilities and military operations in Rafah and the effects this is having on children and their families. 

"In my 20 years with the United Nations, I have never seen such devastation. Just chaos and ruin, with rubble and debris scattered in every single direction. Utter annihilation. The deprivation, the forced desperation, means despair pervades the population. And people's nerves are shattered amid unrelenting attacks."

James Elder
UNICEF Spokesperson

100%

of Gaza’s child population needs some form of mental health and psychosocial support.

70%

up to 70 per cent of the reported deaths are women and children.

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 therapeutic 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 most severe 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 most severe form of malnutrition.
© UNICEF/UNI519938/El Baba

Gaza on the brink of famine

Children and their families, who have already endured immense loss and trauma, are now facing famine. 

Malnutrition among children is spreading fast and reaching devastating and unprecedented levels in the Gaza Strip due to the wide-reaching impacts of the war and ongoing restrictions on aid delivery.

At least 28 children in northern Gaza Strip have reportedly died from malnutrition and dehydration, adding to the mounting toll of children killed in the Strip in this current conflict.


UNICEF continues to call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire 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.   

People wait in a long line to receive a small amount of food in the Gaza Strip, where more than half a million people, are facing catastrophic levels of food shortages.
People, including children, wait in a long line to receive a small amount of food in the Gaza Strip, where at least one in four households, or more than half a million people, are facing catastrophic levels of food shortages.
© UNICEF/UNI495565/ZAGOUT

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. 

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. 

In Gaza, 11-year-old Mohammad holds his three-month-old sister.
In Gaza, 11-year-old Mohammad holds his three-month-old sister. "When I hug my little sister, I feel happiness sweeping through my body, making me forget the horror of war and destruction around us. I love her very much and I love her smell,” said Mohammad.
© UNICEF/UNI539217/ZAGOUT

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 in October 2023. 

We continue to move lifesaving supplies into Gaza and across the strip wherever logistically possible due to border restrictions, the widescale destruction of the infrastructure and the threat posed by unexploded ordnances. 

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. 

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.

Girl standing outside temporary shelter in the Gaza Strip conflict.
© UNICEF/UNI521729/El Baba

Children of Gaza Crisis

Children are in crisis and desperately need your help. Donate today to support UNICEF’s ongoing efforts.