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UN officials demand 'immediate' protection of Palestinian children

Aug. 2, 2018 11:04 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 6, 2018 1:14 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Three United Nations officials operating in the occupied West Bank called on Wednesday for the protection of Palestinian children, demanding concrete and immediate steps to allow the Palestinian children to live without fear.

According to the UN officials, 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, children’s rights continue to be violated.

The UN officials said in a statement “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 the UN statement, children as young as 11 years old have been killed or suffered injuries. “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.”

The statement pointed out that hundreds of Palestinian children were injured by live ammunition fired by Israeli forces, causing a number of these children lifelong disabilities, including amputation of limbs. Adding that 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 statement called on Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA), and the Hamas movement in Gaza to place children’s rights above any other considerations and take immediate steps to ease their suffering. Noting that respecting these rights and refraining from assisting their situation should be a priority for everyone.

The UN officials expressed their concern and said that what they said is “the too often cynical use of children in political rhetoric and propaganda on all sides,” stressing that children should never be put at risk of violence, nor should they be encouraged to take part in violence, but most importantly should not be the target of violence.

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