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Three months on, nowhere is safe and time is running out for children in Gaza

8th January 2024

Three months since the escalation of violence in Gaza and Israel started, Kathleen Spencer Chapman, Director of Influencing and Youth Engagement at Plan International UK, said:

With the three-month mark of the horrific escalation of conflict in Gaza and Israel approaching (Sunday 7 January), which has brought unbelievable suffering to children and all civilians, Plan International UK once again calls on all parties involved for a lasting ceasefire.                                                                                                                

In just 91 days, 22,438 people have been killed in Gaza, including at least 8,000 children, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health1 . Over 57,614 people have been injured and 1.9 million people have been forced to flee their homes. In the West Bank, according to the UN, Israeli soldiers or settlers have killed 314 people, including 80 children, since 7 October2 .

The UN has renewed its warnings that Gaza is “grappling with catastrophic hunger”, with 40% of its population now at “risk of famine”3 . 123 hostages taken by Palestinian armed groups remain unaccounted for, and Palestinian armed groups have killed 1,139 people in Israel, including 39 children4 .

These statistics are harrowing. Time is running out fast for children in Gaza. Together with peer humanitarian and human rights organisations, governments and ordinary people around the world, we demand an unconditional, immediate, sustained and complete ceasefire and improved humanitarian access at scale, so that aid can safely reach all people in need.

The situation in Gaza is horrifying - there is nowhere safe for children. The blatant and constant targeting of schools, hospitals and refugee camps, which should always be a place of safety, is a violation of International Humanitarian Law. Just yesterday (Thursday), Israeli airstrikes near Al-Mawasi, a designated “humanitarian zone” by Israeli authorities (to which Israeli forces ordered civilians to evacuate for their safety) reportedly killed 14 people, the majority of them children under 10 years old5 . Humanitarian workers and relief supplies are severely restricted and constant and indiscriminate bombing has taken a heavy toll on hundreds of thousands of children and pregnant women.

Plan International is scaling up support to partners in Gaza and neighbouring countries, and is ready to provide life-saving humanitarian aid to children. But humanitarians cannot truly address the dire needs of civilians without the full, expedited, and unhindered entry of humanitarian aid at all access points and very importantly, the cessation of the airstrikes and fighting.

We continue to call for the immediate release of all civilian hostages and for access to them. Children should never be held as a hostage or prisoner. We also demand an immediate end to the forced displacement of Palestinian civilians, in Gaza and West Bank, and for International Humanitarian Law to be upheld at all times. The horror, suffering, and trauma children are facing right now is indescribable – they need food, water, medical assistance and safety more urgently than ever before.

Palestinian children, like all children everywhere, have the right to a life free from war, violence and fear, and it is our collective responsibility to urge parties involved in the conflict to protect that right. No party to conflict has the right to flagrantly disregard international law. The UK Government must alter its course and be clear and urgent in its messaging to all parties: protection of children and all civilians is non-negotiable; the killing needs to end; a full ceasefire is desperately needed, now.

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