The United Nations estimates that 17,000 children in Gaza were left unaccompanied during the Israeli war News of the Israeli war on Gaza

The United Nations Children’s Agency estimates that at least 17,000 children in the Gaza Strip were left unaccompanied or separated from their families about four months after the Israeli attack on the Strip.

Almost all children in the Strip also need mental health support, UNICEF said on Friday.

“Every (child) has a heartbreaking story of loss and grief,” said Jonathan Crakes, UNICEF Chief of Communications in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

“This number (17,000) represents one percent of the total number of displaced people – 1.7 million people,” he said in a press briefing via video link from Jerusalem, adding that the number is an estimate because it is almost impossible to verify the information under the current circumstances. .

He added that each one of them “is a child adapting to a new, horrific reality.”

Tracking down the identity of the unaccompanied children has been “extremely difficult,” as they are sometimes taken to hospital injured or in shock, and “simply cannot even give their names,” Krekes said.

He said that during conflicts, it was common for extended families to take care of children who had lost their parents.

However, in Gaza, “due to significant shortages of food, water or shelter, extended families themselves experience grief and face challenges in immediately caring for another child while themselves struggling to meet the needs of their children and family,” says Krekes. .

In general, UNICEF describes separated children as those who are without their parents, while unaccompanied children are children who are separated and also have no other relatives.

“Almost all children” need mental health support

Krix also said that the mental health of children in Gaza was severely affected by the attack, and that one million children in the Gaza Strip need mental health support.

He explained that children in Gaza “suffer from symptoms such as extremely high levels of constant anxiety, loss of appetite, inability to sleep, and suffer from emotional or panic attacks every time they hear bombing.”

Before the attack, UNICEF estimated that more than 500,000 children in Gaza needed mental health and psychosocial support.

Now, she believes, “almost all children need” such help. “That’s more than a million kids,” Krekes said.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Israeli attacks have killed more than 27,100 people in Gaza since the war began on October 7, including about 11,500 children.

More than 66,200 others have been infected amid severe shortages of medical supplies and functioning healthcare facilities. Thousands more are missing and buried under the rubble.

With Israeli ground forces encircling most of northern, central and eastern Gaza, families have been forced to flee their homes several times since the war began. Many are now crowded into the southern Rafah governorate, which Israel says belongs to it Next goal From the attack.

Many of those who fled their homes were shot and arrested. Those arriving in the south often have no contact with relatives or caregivers in other parts of the enclave, especially during times of communications blackouts.

“Children have nothing to do with this conflict. However, they are suffering in a way that no child should ever suffer.

“No child should ever be exposed to the level of violence we saw on October 7 – or the level of violence we have seen since.”

He called for a ceasefire so that UNICEF can conduct a proper census of unaccompanied or separated children, trace their relatives, and provide mental health support.

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