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At least 17,000 children in Gaza unaccompanied or separated

At least 17,000 children in Gaza unaccompanied or separated

Washington, Feb 2 (UNI) At least 17,000 children in the Gaza Strip are unaccompanied or separated amid the ongoing Hamas-Israel war, UNICEF State of Palestine Chief of Communication Jonathan Crickx said on Friday.

"UNICEF estimates that at least 17,000 children in the Gaza Strip are unaccompanied or separated. Each one is a heartbreaking story of loss and grief," Crickx said during a briefing.

This corresponds to 1% of the overall displaced population of 1.7 million people.

The figure is just an estimate, as it is impossible to verify it due to the ongoing conflict, Crickx stressed.

Crickx, who returned from the region this week, said that more than half of the 12 children he met had lost a family member in this war.

"Three had lost a parent, of which two had lost both their mother and their father," he shared. "Behind each of these statistics is a child who is coming to terms with this horrible new reality."

UNICEF fears that the situation with children who have lost their parents is much worse in the north and the centre of the Gaza Strip.

Children’s mental health is also severely impacted, with UNICEF estimating that almost all children, or more than 1 million, are now in need of mental health and psychosocial support.

Before the war, an estimated 500,000 children were in need of such assistance.

On October 7, the Palestinian movement Hamas launched a large-scale rocket attack against Israel from Gaza and breached the border, killing 1,200 people and abducting around 240 others. Israel launched retaliatory strikes, ordered a complete blockade of Gaza, and started a ground incursion into the Palestinian enclave with the declared goal of eliminating Hamas fighters and rescuing the hostages.

Almost 27,000 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip as a result of Israeli strikes, local authorities said.

On November 24, Qatar mediated a deal between Israel and Hamas on a temporary truce and the exchange of some of the prisoners and hostages, as well as the delivery of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. The ceasefire was extended several times and expired on December 1.

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