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 Israel and the State of Palestine. Nothing justifies the killing, maiming or abduction of children. "
Despite the challenging humanitarian and security situation, UNICEF and partners are actively present in the Gaza Strip to provide immediate life-saving humanitarian support, including delivering medical supplies, 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.
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.
What is UNICEF doing for children in the State of Palestine?
Before the renewed violence, the State of Palestine 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 State of Palestine 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 life-saving 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 started on 24 November, UNICEF scaled up its efforts, moving life-saving 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.
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 programmes are not generally requested or required. In extraordinary circumstances, upon request from the Government, UNICEF may consider extending support. Currently, UNICEF Australia is appealing specifically for children on the ground in the State of Palestine where UNICEF has teams on the ground. However, our work to protect and advocate for children across both Israel and the State of Palestine will continue.
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.
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.
Children in Emergencies
UNICEF is providing urgent assistance to children. But we can’t do it alone. We need your help today.