UN officials demand protection of Palestinian children

JERUSALEM, Three senior United Nations officials operating in the occupied Palestinian territories called on Wednesday for protection of Palestinian children, demanding concrete steps to allow them to live free of fear.

We are deeply concerned that children’s rights continue to be violated, and demand that concrete, immediate steps be taken to allow children to live free of fear and to realize all their rights, according to a joint press statement by Jamie McGoldrick, Humanitarian Coordinator of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), James Heenan, Head of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Right (OHCHR) and Genevieve Boutin, UNICEF Special Representative in State of Palestine.

Despite continuous warnings and appeals by the United Nations and others to put the protection of children first, week after week, reports emerge from the Gaza Strip and other parts of the occupied Palestinian territory of children killed or seriously injured, some as young as 11, they said, adding that seven Palestinian children were killed by live ammunition and shelling from Israel in July alone bringing the total to 26 killed since the start of the Great March of Return protests on the Gaza border on March 30, 21 during the demonstrations and five others were killed by Israeli shelling or outside the context of demonstrations.

In the same period, hundreds more children have been injured by live ammunition. A number of these children will suffer lifelong disabilities, including as a result of the amputation of limbs. Thousands are in need of urgent psychosocial assistance, specialized medical care, and support for their rehabilitation.

All over the occupied Palestinian territory, but particularly in the Gaza Strip, we see children robbed of every right. Families cope with four hours of electricity per day in the sweltering heat. Clean drinking water is expensive and hard to find. The start of the school year in one month will be very difficult for tens of thousands of families who cannot afford basic school supplies, said the statement.

The UN officials deplored what they said was the too often cynical use of children in political rhetoric and propaganda on all sides, stressing, Children should never be the target of violence and must not be put at risk of violence nor encouraged to participate in violence.

They called on Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas authorities in Gaza to put children’s rights ahead of any other considerations and to take immediate steps to alleviate their suffering. Respecting the rights of children and refraining from instrumentalizing their plight should be a priority for all. This context is not an exception.

Source: Palestine News & Info Agency

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