UNRWA head says ongoing conflict in Gaza is a 'war against children'

UNRWA head says ongoing conflict in Gaza is a 'war against children'

The head of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said on Tuesday that more children have been killed in four months of war in Gaza than in four years of wars worldwide.

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Philippe Lazzarini described the ongoing offensive in the Palestinian enclave as a war against children.

“This war is a war on children. It is a war on their childhood and their future," he said.

Lazzarini described as “staggering” the latest figures showing that more than 12,300 children had died in Gaza between October 2023 and February 2024, compared to 12,193 children killed in global conflicts from 2019 to 2023.

Amid horrific scenes of babies and children suffering terrible injuries and trauma as a result of the fighting, Lazzarini called for an immediate ceasefire for their sake.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that at least 17,000 children in Gaza are “now unaccompanied or separated from their families”, and many have experienced life-changing injuries.

And the World Health Organization, like many other aid agencies working in the area, say children are experiencing “severe levels of malnutrition” and some are dying of starvation.

A senior UN aid official said recently that one in six children under the age of two in the north of the enclave were suffering from acute malnutrition.

While aid is more regular in the south of Gaza, particularly vulnerable children are dying of hunger there too.

Agencies warn that malnutrition weakens immune systems, sometimes leading to death from other diseases.