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Children suffer devastating & lasting impact of Gaza crisis

Children suffering devastating and lasting impact of Gaza crisis, says UN Committee on the Rights of the Child

Geneva, 22 November 2012 – While welcoming the ceasefire which started last night, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child on Thursday expressed its “deep concern at the devastating and lasting impact the crisis in Gaza and Israel is having on children.”

“This impact extends from a large number of deaths and injuries in Gaza to deep trauma and other psychological effects on children on both sides of the border,” the Committee said. “These experiences may affect them for many years to come, including into adulthood.”

Since the beginning of the current crisis, at least 26 children have been killed and, according to the Ministry of Health, more than 400 have been injured, some gravely, by Israeli attacks on Gaza. On November 18, for example, seven-year-old Sara, six-year-old Jamal, four-year-old Yusef and two-year-old Ibrahim all died in an attack against the suspected home of a Hamas militant, which killed at least eight members of the same family. In Southern Israel, 14 Israeli children have been injured by shellfire launched by Hamas.

“Many other children in Gaza have lost parents or other loved ones, and are left deeply traumatized,” the Committee said. “Over the past few days, children were reported to be displaying clear signs of stress, including excessive crying, bedwetting, and screaming during the frequent explosions.”

“Destruction of homes and damage to schools, streets and other public facilities gravely affect children and deprive them of their basic rights,” the Committee added. “The recent air and naval strikes on densely populated areas in Gaza with significant presence of children constitute gross violations of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, its Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict and international humanitarian law.”

“Over the past week, hundreds of thousands of Palestinian and Israeli children have lived under the terror of explosions caused by rocket attacks or air strikes and shelling,” the Committee said, noting that UNICEF had drawn attention to the fact that many children had been forced to sleep in the cold in Gaza, because their windows had been shattered by explosions, or because they had kept the windows open, to avoid injury from shards of glass. In southern Israel, children also lived in fear and were forced to go into bomb shelters or to seek shelter in other parts of the country.

“All Parties to the conflict should abide by their unconditional obligations to provide special protection for children,” the Committee said, noting that “human rights law, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, applies at all times, including in situations of armed conflict.” The Committee joins its voice to the call of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to ensure accountability for any violations of international law, including through prompt, impartial, independent and effective investigations into credible allegations of violations.

United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child – http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/index.htm

Learn more about the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: http://www.ohchr.org

ENDS

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