Statement: Immediate humanitarian access needed to stave off disaster for Gaza’s children

19th May 2021

In Gaza, children gather at a water truck to fill bottles with clean drinking water. Prior to this escalation, Gaza already suffered from a shortage of clean drinking water. Current violence makes access to clean water significantly more difficult. © UNICEF/UN0463024/El Baba

Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore      

NEW YORK, 18 May 2021 – “Gaza’s one million children are reeling from the mounting consequences of violent conflict with nowhere safe to turn. Lives have been lost, and families shattered.

“In Gaza, at least 60 children have been killed and another 444 have been injured in less than 10 days. Nearly 30,000 children have been displaced. An estimated 250,000 children need mental health and protection services. At least four health facilities and 40 schools have been damaged. Some 48 schools – most of them run by UNRWA – are being used as emergency shelters for families seeking refuge from the violence.

“The already weakened water and sanitation systems have been further compromised as a result of this latest escalation. Essential infrastructure – including groundwater wells and reservoirs, desalination and wastewater plants, water delivery networks and pumping stations – have sustained significant damage. We estimate that 325,000 people need emergency water and sanitation services, without which they are more likely to contract potentially deadly infectious diseases.

“Electricity output across Gaza has dropped by roughly 60 per cent, leaving hospitals increasingly dependent on generators for the provision of essential healthcare services. These generators require significant amounts of fuel to function. Any reduction in health care capacity could also jeopardize treatment for those with COVID-19.

“UNICEF is calling for the immediate cessation of hostilities on humanitarian grounds to allow the entry of staff and essential supplies, including fuel, medical items, first-aid kits and COVID-19 vaccines. We are also calling for the establishment of humanitarian corridors so that we can deliver these supplies safely, so that families can reunite and access essential services, and so that the sick or wounded can be evacuated.

“Each and every day the conflict continues, children across the State of Palestine and Israel will suffer. These children need a ceasefire now, as well as a long-term political solution to the broader conflict. They deserve far better than this horrible cycle of violence and fear that has gone on for far too long.”



UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

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For further information, please contact:

Christopher Tidey, UNICEF New York, +1 917 340 3017,

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