New York, Feb.6 (ANI): The United Nations has said that it is ready to address Hamas's use of children as human shields during last month's IDF offensive in Gaza.
UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday: "We have not yet dealt directly with the human shield issue, but we will now mention it in our reports."
"It is still very difficult for us to say that it was actually happening and we still need to conduct a full investigation into what exactly took place... but we are not denying that it happened; it is absolutely possible that Hamas was using its civilians as human shields," she said.
However, Coomaraswamy said that the UN's policy not to meet with leading members of the Hamas government - because it was officially considered a terrorist organization - seriously hampered all types of humanitarian relief work in the Gaza Strip.
"It makes all our humanitarian jobs very difficult, because we cannot meet with Hamas at a political level," said Coomaraswamy, who this week met with high-level Israeli and Palestinian Authority officials, including PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad, as well as with many children in both Gaza and Ashkelon to hear about the conflict from a more personal angle.
Coomaraswamy, who was appointed to her position three years ago and reports directly to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said the work of UN aid agencies and other relief efforts over the past two and a half weeks since the fighting stopped meant that "basic humanitarian needs are being met" in Gaza. However, "the children are still in urgent need of assistance, including the restoration of basic services and the immediate reconstruction of schools and hospitals," she said in a press statement later on Thursday.
Coomaraswamy said: "I believe that if we can reconstruct Gaza as quickly as possible then there will be able to be some hope for the future. Even though they bear the brunt of the conflict, children remain strong advocates for peace."
"Every child has the right to live in safety and security. Children from the region have suffered enough. They deserve a better future," she added. (ANI)