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In Gaza, a boy faces a pile of rubble from buildings destroyed by the ongoing conflict.

Life in Gaza: What’s It Like for Children Growing Up in Conflict?

Months of conflict have put the lives of at least one million children in Gaza at risk.  Nowhere in Gaza is safe. More than 12,000 of Gaza’s 1.1 million children have been killed since the attacks on October 7, 2023 and the assault on Gaza that has followed. 

Children have a special status in conflict and must be protected. Yet these are some of the shocking realities of life in Gaza for children

  • Nearly all children in Gaza are at imminent risk of famine.
  • There is a total absence of education in Gaza, leaving 625,000 children out of school.
  • Over 1 million children in Gaza are in need of mental health support.
  • 5,500 babies, or 180 per day, are due to be born in the next 30 days.
  • More than 600,000 children are now trapped in Rafah with nowhere else to flee.

"We are running out of words to describe what children and families in Gaza are going through as well as the tools to respond in any adequate way. The scale of death and destruction is astronomical. And with tanks poised to roll into Rafah, where most of Gaza’s population has been forced to flee amid rising hunger and disease, this war is about to enter the deadliest stage possible."

Children in Gaza are trapped, with no safe place to go

The majority of Gaza’s displaced population—more than 1.3 million people, including more than 610,000 children—are now crammed into an area of just 24 square miles, less than a fifth of the total land mass of Gaza. There is nowhere left to flee as Israeli attacks on Rafah, already one of the most densely populated areas in the world, intensify.

Overcrowding in shelters, a near-total collapse of basic sanitation and health facilities, a lack of medicine and medical supplies, the rising number of unburied bodies, and a scarcity of clean water is creating the perfect storm for major disease outbreaks and preventable illnesses to start also taking the lives of children.

Cases of upper respiratory infections, diarrhea, skin diseases, jaundice and meningitis are on the rise. Without sufficient vaccinations for newborns, children are exposed to the risks of severe cold, malnutrition and respiratory and skin diseases.

Children’s mental health in Gaza is being pushed beyond breaking point.

Conditions to provide humanitarian assistance to children in Gaza are not only not being met but are getting worse. Children’s mental health in Gaza is being pushed beyond breaking point after four months of siege and relentless bombardment. They have suffered unimaginable mental harm from the violence, serious physical injuries, including the loss of body parts, and the loss of families, homes and their schools. 

All children under five in Gaza are at high risk of malnutrition. 

Everyone in Gaza is now at risk of famine and facing crisis levels of food insecurity or worse. Four months of constant bombardment and restrictions have created the conditions for an exponential rise in malnutrition, with extremely limited access to food and water. Pregnant women are not receiving the nutrition and healthcare they need. .

It is estimated that approximately 24 million children living in conflict zones around the world today could be experiencing high levels of stress and have mild to moderate mental health. An additional 7 million children are at risk of developing severe mental health disorders.

Children in Gaza are facing yet another new threat as the cold, wet winter sets in. 

Hundreds and thousands of Palestinians had to flee their homes with little more than the clothes on their back, unfit for the winter months ahead. The risk of flooding due to heavy rains will compound the threat of waterborne disease outbreaks. Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can weaken children’s immune systems, putting them at risk of fatal illnesses like pneumonia.

Save the Children is Working to Find Ways to Get Assistance Into Gaza

Save the Children stands ready to scale-up our support to children who will need humanitarian assistance to live to see next week. But the basic conditions to reach families need to be established by the international community. We are calling for a definitive #CeasefireNOW.

Save the Children is calling on all States to immediately halt the transfer of weapons, parts, and ammunition to Israel and Palestinian armed groups while there is risk they are used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian or human rights law.

Save the Children is also calling for all donor governments and the rest of the international community to resume and scale up funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) as quickly as possible.  

Save the Children has been providing essential services and support to Palestinian children impacted by the ongoing conflict since 1953. Save the Children’s team in the occupied Palestinian territory has been working around the clock, prepositioning vital supplies to support people in need, and working to find ways to get assistance into Gaza.   

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