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Over 20,000 Children Missing due to Gaza War: Aid group

Over 20,000 Children Missing due to Gaza War: Aid group

The ongoing conflict in Gaza has left an estimated 21,000 children missing, with many feared trapped under rubble, detained or separated from their families, according to a report released by Save the Children on June 24.

Publish Date: 24/06/24 14:13
reading time: 4 min.
Over 20,000 Children Missing due to Gaza War: Aid group
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The British aid group estimated that at least 17,000 children are unaccompanied and separated from their parents, while some 4,000 children are likely under the rubble.

“Many children have been detained and ‘disappeared’ by Israeli forces. Some were thrown into unmarked or mass graves or maimed beyond recognition. Others have been separated from their families and caregivers, at risk of exploitation,” the statement said.

The group said its child protection teams had been put under further strain as a result of Israel's operation in Rafah and that more families and communities were being separated from their children as a result.

“At the same time, the unrelenting intensity of the war in Gaza, movement and access restrictions, and communication blackouts have made it difficult to keep track of and locate children who have been separated and detained,” the aid group said.

This means that the true number of missing children in Gaza is even higher, the statement noted.

The advocacy group called for a ceasefire to look for the missing children.

Almost nine months of war in Gaza began with an unprecedented Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel by the Islamist militant group Hamas. The attack resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people.

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed at least 37,598 people, also mostly civilians, according to the Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza.

"Every day we find more unaccompanied children, and every day it is harder to support them. We work through partners to identify separated and unaccompanied children and trace their families, but there are no safe facilities for them - there is no safe place in Gaza," a Save the Children child protection specialist in Gaza said in a statement following the report.

Speaking to broadcaster Al Jazeera, Jeremy Stoner, the group’s regional director for the Middle East, called for an independent investigation and accountability.

“Families are tortured by the uncertainty of the whereabouts of their loved ones. No parent should have to dig through rubble or mass graves to try and find their child’s body. No child should be alone, unprotected in a war zone. No child should be detained or held hostage,” he said.

“Children who are missing but living are vulnerable, face grave protection risks and must be found. They must be protected and reunited with their families.”

According to a recent statement by the Education Ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, 85 percent of educational facilities in the territory are out of service because of the war.

The Education Cluster, a U.N.-backed organization, estimated in a report this month that more than 75 percent of Gaza's schools would need full reconstruction or major rehabilitation to reopen.


Source: HDN

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