469 children killed in Gaza: UNICEF

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UNICEF
United Nations, Aug 22: A senior official of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said here on Thursday that a total of 469 children were killed in the Gaza Strip, where the situation is "dire" because of its debilitating effect on the one million Gaza Strip inhabitants under the age of 18.

"This situation is very dire in terms of the impact and the toll (it) has on children," Pernille Ironside, chief of Gaza occupied Palestinian territory field office for the UNICEF, was quoted as saying by Xinhua at a press conference, days after renewed fighting broke out between Hamas and Israel.

"In the last 48 hours, nine more children have been killed," she said. "Unfortunately, this brings our (death toll) to 469 children as of this morning."

The latest round of fighting came shortly after a 24-hour ceasefire extension between Israel and the Palestinian militants announced by the Egyptian government earlier this week.

The impact from fighting has been vast on a physical level because of casualties, injuries and the damage to the Strip's infrastructure, she said, adding that more importantly, it has had a destabilising emotional and psychological impact on children.

Children are feeling like there isn't anywhere safe to go, said the UN official, who is a Canadian-born human rights lawyer and child advocate with a year's experience in Gaza. "Children need to have (a) sense of security."

"When I am speaking with kids today, I'm finding that they are withdrawn from normal interactions with their families. They are having nightmares, wetting their bed, and they won't let their parents out of their sight. They are truly in a state of trauma." she said.

IANS

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