UNICEF says situation for children in Middle East 'catastrophic'

UNICEF says situation for children in Middle East 'catastrophic'

Access to needs of children in Gaza strip 'increasingly difficult, dangerous,' says UN agency

By Beyza Binnur Donmez

GENEVA (AA) - The UNICEF on Saturday called the situation for children in the Middle East "catastrophic," as it said access to the needs of children in Gaza is getting harder.

"UNICEF is responding to the critical needs of children across the Gaza Strip, but access is increasingly difficult and dangerous," the UN agency said on X.

"We need an immediate humanitarian pause to reach children in need," it urged.

It also stressed that children "suffer first and suffer most" in all wars.

The Israeli army on Friday ordered all residents of northern Gaza to evacuate their homes and head to the south, despite warnings that this would lead to an international humanitarian disaster.

In a dramatic escalation of Middle East tensions, Israeli forces a week ago launched a sustained and forceful military campaign against the Gaza Strip, a response to a military offensive by the Palestinian group Hamas in Israeli territories.

The conflict began last Saturday when Hamas initiated Operation Al-Aqsa Flood against Israel, a multi-pronged surprise attack including a barrage of rocket launches and infiltrations into Israel via land, sea, and air.

Hamas said the operation was in retaliation for the storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem and Israeli settlers’ growing violence against Palestinians.

The Israeli military then launched Operation Swords of Iron against Hamas targets within the Gaza Strip.

Israel's response has extended into cutting water and electricity supplies to Gaza, further worsening the living conditions in an area that has endured a crippling siege since 2007, as well as ordering over 1 million Gazans in the northern strip to evacuate to the southern strip within 24 hours.

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